Reed Hastings knows a mistake when he sees one. Thankfully, he isn't too proud to course-correct when the situation calls for it. He ended Netflix's (Nasdaq: NFLX) ill-fated Qwikster experiment last night.
"We underestimated the appeal of the single web site and a single service. ... We greatly underestimated it," Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey told The New York Times, signaling the end of Qwikster before it began.
Color me relieved. For as much as I believe in Hastings -- and I believe enough to bet real money on his company -- even I had to admit that Qwikster sounded dumb and unnecessarily complex. My Foolish colleague and Motley Fool Rule Breakers teammate Rick Munarriz said it best when the Qwikster news first broke:
"As crummy an inconvenience as this will be for the folks on dual plans, it will also help fortify the platform that Netflix sees as the future. Netflix won't tell you that it values its streaming subscribers over its mail-based couch potatoes, but it's true."
Up until Qwikster, Netflix never gave the impression that it valued streamers over shippers. If anything, the company promised precisely the opposite. Get movies or TV shows either online or in the mail, fast, with one low price. Watch them wherever you are.
Qwikster broke that brand promise by putting customers in two boxes: Go here if you want movies online, here if you want them mailed to you. Oh, and you'll need two log-ins. It was just the opening Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Hulu needed.
To be fair, Netflix wasn't and isn't dying. New streaming deals with DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA) and former Cablevision subsidiary AMC Networks (Nasdaq: AMCX) show Hastings has the chops to book streaming deals consumers want.
And yet even Hastings knows he got it wrong with Qwikster. "Moving forward step by step, despite the foot with the bullet hole," he wrote in announcing the DreamWorks deal on his Facebook page.
Today the wound's been bandaged; next comes the healing. Expect it to take awhile. Do you agree? Disagree? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to let us know what you think about Netflix ending its Qwikster experiment. You can also add any of these stocks to your Foolish watchlist for ongoing coverage.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Netflix at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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