Netflix vs Blockbuster: The winner is…

I had a Netflix account until Blockbuster came out with their, “Turn in a movie, get a movie” plan. It was a novelty to go into the local Blockbuster, turn in an envelope and get a movie. It was especially nice because online DVD rental places aren’t always good about sending that next video.

Recently Netflix came out with it’s responding shot: watch a movie online. Depending on how many movies you rent at a time, you can watch so many hours of movies online a month. It’s an interesting concept, though the original announcement was somewhat misleading because the plan is only now being rolled out and we’ll only be available to everyone in June. Additionally, you have to watch that movie within a web browser, which doesn’t provide the best viewing experience.

Late last week I switched back to Netflix, but it wasn’t because of this new deal, it was because of the old deal. One reason to have a service like Netflix is that you can access older or more unusual movies; movies that your local video rental shop doesn’t have. Yet when I put these items at the top of my list at Blockbuster, they’re never sent; even when shown as available in the queue, I would never get them. Blockbuster would pick movies from the middle of the list or the bottom over these movies–there was no rhyme or reason to how it made its shipment decisions.

As a test, I put three items that have been at the top of my list at Blockbuster for close to two weeks at the top of my newly re-awakened Netflix account. The next day, all three items shipped.

Netflix also has a better interface. It’s easier to find the movies I want, it’s recommendations are better, and it’s faster and less cluttered than the Blockbuster interface. Disregarding the ‘deal’ to turn a movie in for a free one, or watching movies online, when it comes to the ‘core’ business of providing DVDs based on a queue, especially older, foreign, or more unusual movies, Netflix is better.

It might not be ‘Web 2.0’, but all the gewgaws in the world won’t compensate when you let your core business flounder or fail.

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