I tend to be an optimist and to trust that when people make big, momentous decisions, they have a plan, until proven clearly otherwise. So I was willing to believe that Netflix was making a painful but necessary transition to get head of an inevitable trend in the market in splitting into two companies. Until it became clear that, uh, they weren’t. As Alexis Madrigal writes:
The seemingly hasty decision came after the company’s share price had fallen from over $300 to $155 at the time of the Qwikster announcement. Hastings seemed eager to stanch the flow of investors from his company. But no one was buying. From September 19 to Friday’s stock market close, Netflix’s shares were down almost 25 percent.
My favorite evisceration of the plan among the hundreds to choose from came courtesy of Sarah Pavis’ at Netflixwatercooler. She entitled her post, “Parallel Universe in Which Netflix Becoming Qwikster Makes Sense.” The point is: in our universe, Qwikster never did.
I still think streaming is essentially the future, whether it’s because it’ll get harder and more expensive to deliver discs as Postal Service delivery contracts; because if tablets take off, people will want to carry less stuff; and as clouds become standard and televisions become less central, discs will seem like even more of an anachronism. Netflix’ retreat may eventually bolster the value of the company in the short term (though it appears to have had a rocky first day out). But I do think the real point is that whoever figures out the multiple-device, fairly-timely-for-new-episodes, well-licensed-for-old-content streaming solution is going to dominate the market.