2010 was a very busy year for Netflix
At the start of the year, Netflix was a firmly established DVD rental service with 12.3 million subscribers. Digital streaming still seemed a bit like a hobby, although the company was building up a serious stable of hardware partners willing to publish its video streams. The stock started out at $53.48 on Jan. 4.
My, how quickly things changed.
Springtime for Netflix
By the end of the month, Netflix had already signed that first infamous 28-day delay agreement with Time Warner
It wasn't long before rental kiosk vendor Coinstar
But by then the rental space was already a very different ballgame. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in September while Netflix was working hard to leave the whole DVD operation behind. In October, the company proudly announced that its customers spent more time watching digital streams than mailed DVDs, and the customer list had grown to 16.9 million members.
Lately, the stock has attracted a massive short-selling brigade and CEO Reed Hastings has been found debunking some of the concerns that fuel all that shorting. The chief concern on Hastings' mind is competition, as digital powerhouses like Apple
Then again, Apple often brings up its Netflix applications as selling points for the iPhone and iPad, and the Apple TV wouldn't amount to much without Netflix support, now would it? Google might have more reason to face off against Netflix, but I think Big G is more likely to buy Netflix than to crush it. How antagonistic can these relationships really be?
Closing the books on 2010
So Netflix is expected to close the year with about 20 million subscribers and a very different set of challenges and opportunities than last year's. The Canadian service is leading the way toward growth further overseas, and relationships with just about every major movie studio appear to be healthy. In fact, Netflix snuggled up just a little bit closer to Walt Disney
Can the stock keep climbing in 2011 or is Hastings flying too close to the sun already? I think you already know where I stand.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Netflix. Disney and Google are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple, Disney, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Apple and 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.