Qwikster? Really?

I heard some disturbing news; my beloved Netflix will be changing its name to Qwikster. Oh, there’ll still be something called Netflix, but it won’t be the service that sends me DVDs in red envelopes. The service I’ve been using and touting for years is being renamed. And it will have its own web site. And it will not be integrated with Netflix.

I was surprised at how upset I was when I heard the news. It felt like Netflix was breaking up with me. There were signs, to be sure. Some time ago, they introduced a Play Now feature that let you choose whether to have a movie shipped to you on DVD or streamed. I was never all that interested in watching the streaming movies. Paging through the Play Now list evoked the same feeling as flipping through TV Guide looking for something I didn’t mind watching.

DVDs, on the other hand, feel more – deliberate. Before I put a DVD into the machine I read the blurb on the sleeve to remind myself what it’s about, who’s in it, and why I wanted to see it. The physical act of taking it out of its sleeve and putting it on the platter makes me feel as if I’m about to have an experience.

Then Netflix started to charge separately for the streaming service and they raised the rate on DVD rentals. My husband and I argued about what to do. Being the geekier of the two of us, and the one whose credit card is hit every month, he was immediately interested in giving up the DVDs and converting to a life of streaming. I pointed out that Netflix was not streaming the most recent releases. If we wanted to see them in a timely fashion, we’d need to keep the physical DVDs coming. We compromised; we’d pay for streaming, and we’d drop the number of DVDs from three at a time to one. Naively, I thought that was going to be the end of that.

And now I find out that I’m about to be a customer of Qwikster. Qwikster. I hate that name; it bears no relation to Netflix. It sounds like they wanted to get as far away from the existing brand as they could. If not, why didn’t they name it Qwikflix? I checked the US Patent and Trademark Office; it’s available.

Reed Hastings, the co-founder and CEO of Netflix sent us an email with the subject, An Explanation and Some Reflections. He said, “I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation. It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology.” I don’t care about the price, or the separation of the business units. I care that I am now a customer of a company with a stupid name, and the hip cool brand is attached to a process I’m having trouble embracing. I can’t hear myself saying, “Did the mail come? Is there a new Qwikster disc?”

Oh forget it. There are plenty of good books to read.

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4 responses to “Qwikster? Really?

  1. I refused to join Netflix until our Arlington neighborhood video rental store (Video Horizons) closed. VH finally DID close about a month ago, causing me to CRY, as if an old friend had died. Not only did I enjoy the walk to my neighborhood video store, I knew all the people who worked there, many of the kids being friends of my own. For years, we had shared movie tips. Now it sounds as if you are having a similar reaction to the already impersonal Netflix pushing the DVD users off to the side….proving to us marketing people that, truly, a rose — or a video rental service — by another name DOES smell sweeter. And sometimes it just stinks..

  2. Hi Judy,

    I just found your article, and thought I’d reach out to you since you wrote about the Netflix/Qwikster debacle! Our company shot a spoof video revealing what REALLY happened to Qwikster! Lol, let me know what you think and feel free to share! http://bit.ly/qL5w6G

    -Cory

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