The Curious Case of the Netflix Button

Don't look now, but Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) just pulled a page out of the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) playbook. Specifically, the movie maven is copying a move that paved the way for Android phones to invade the smartphone market en masse. It's a proven icebreaker between service companies and lethargic consumers, and it's all about convenience.

Just as Google started putting Google-branded search buttons on semi-smartphones from Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) and others back in 2006, Netflix is sticking big, red Netflix buttons on remote controls for just about every piece of video-handling electronics you'd care to name. The idea is to make it super-simple to access Netflix on your favorite gadget, cutting out the usual maze of menus and thumb-tiring multiple clicks. The simpler the service, the more people will use it out of sheer convenience.

Where Netflix is one-upping its role model is in the breadth of the offering. Google landed a tiny handful of deals, which helped the company build mobile partnerships ahead of the Android invasion it was cooking up at the time. Netflix gets these buttons on remotes for Blu-ray players, connected TV sets, and some media-hub set-top boxes from a murderer's row of brand-name manufacturers. Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and Samsung are in, as are Sharp, Panasonic (NYSE: PC  ) , and Toshiba. There are Chinese electronics firms on the list, and in-house brands from major store chains.

The only major brands I didn't see in the Netflix announcement were low-cost leader Vizio and European giant Philips (NYSE: PHG  ) , but then again the firm only said that the participants "included" the Riot Act of big names -- which could mean that these missing names also are playing along.

This will put the Netflix brand front and center, right in the face of consumers who have somehow managed to miss out on the digital TV trend altogether. Link this with an easily accessible free-trial promotion, perhaps available right on your new TV screen in a few clicks of the remote, and I think we have a serious growth booster on our hands.

Make sure to send a fruit basket to Mountain View for the idea, Netflix. Great minds apparently do think alike.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google and Netflix but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 3:48 PM, jesterisdead wrote:

    Why pay $8 for Netflix/month when you can get higher quality DVDs/Blu-Rays for $1 each? Have heard the quality of Netflix streaming is lacking.

    http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/netflix-strea...

    Also, paying $10 for the 1 at a time DVD rental scheme when so few movies are worth watching nowadays would be a huge waste.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 8:59 AM, BioBat wrote:

    jsterisdead,

    You have heard the quality of Netflix streaming is lacking or have you actually used it?

    I use it almost exclusively for TV watching and the NYT blog that says it's of VHS quality is completely off the mark unless you're using a connection under 800 kbs. With 1.0-2 MBs, I'm getting near DVD quality viewing.

    So yeah, $10 a month to for the majority of streaming titles which don't need HD is well worth it, especially when I can still it's supplemented with one DVD at a time.

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