Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Netflix giveth, and Netflix taketh away [Updated]

Let me tell you a story.

It's a story about a husband and wife with vastly different movie tastes. Their preferences were so wildly divergent that they could hardly ever agree on what movie to rent at the video store. In fact, it has been known that the couple has even gotten into an argument over what movie to rent that grew so heated that it resulted in the two leaving the local video rental establishment empty handed. That is, without their Blockbuster (or indie flick) in hand.

Enter Netflix. Netflix's queue system brought peace and tranquility to the movie renting process. Husband and wife could both add the movies that they wanted to see to the queue. What arrived wasn't always everybody's favorite but it was there, sitting on the coffee table, so often it was watched anyway during a quiet evening together after a hard day at work.

As great as this was, however, it wasn't perfect. Hubby and wife started jockeying the queue to get their picks at the top. Even with the best of intentions (most of the time), things got out of balance. Questions came up like "Three Hal Hartley movies in a row? What's up with that?" and "How come Netflix is recommending 'Dr. Dolittle 2'? I didn't like the first one!"

Then Netflix said, "let there be profiles." And it was good. Husband and wife could now maintain their own queues and ratings. Husband was no longer recommended "Maid in Manhattan" and Netflix no longer thought that wife would ♥ "The Corporation" (or any other documentary, for that matter). Both were guaranteed to have something they wanted at almost any given time.

This brought balance to the household. Good ch'i. Harmony.

Why would Netflix want to mess with this? Why rock their boat? They've been customers for almost six years, and have been so happy that they've shared their story with dozens (maybe even hundreds) of people.

Why force two of your most loyal customers into the arms of another DVD rental company?

Me? I'll be their staunchest supporter, but I'm not sure about these two. And they can't be the only ones.

Update: It looks like these two will remain in movie rental bliss. After an overwhelming response, Netflix has canceled their plans for killing off profiles. Harmony is once again restored!

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