Netflix Retreats From (Terrible) Qwikster Plan

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The ill-fated plan for Netflix to split into two separate websites has been killed.

So now, CEO Reed Hastings announced in a short, simple blog post on Netflix.com that Qwikster is dead just a few weeks after he'd trumpeted its arrival.

"It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs," Hastings wrote. "This means no change: one website, one account, one password... in other words, no Qwikster."

It's a merciful end to an idea that was basically DOA.

If you don't recall (though it wasn't long ago, so you should), on September 18, Netflix announced a plan to split its business in two. Netflix would remain the place for streaming while a new website, Qwikster, would take on the DVD rental business. At the time, CEO Reed Hastings made the case that this was a necessary change because the streaming and DVD businesses were just very different.

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.

With the announcement, some positive sentiment is finally flowing back to Netflix. Its shares are flying after killing the plan, up almost seven percent this morning. And more importantly (but harder to quantify), the perception among Netflix users that the company had lost track of their desires might begin (begin!) to dissipate.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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