A small change to the Netflix service over the weekend generated some negative feedback from customers - something that shouldn't come as a surprise, given how consumers tend to resist any change to products or services that they already like. But this time around, the company deserves the criticism, mostly because the change downgrades the user experience instead of making it better.
In a blog post, the company said it is removing the "Add to DVD Queue" button that appears on the streaming versions of Netflix - those found on gaming consoles, mobile devices and set-top boxes - when a movie isn't available for streaming. The company has been shifting its focus on the streaming service over DVDs - and that's been a good thing. Netflix is one of the most popular apps on these devices and the demand for streaming is growing.
But DVDs aren't dead yet. And to strip customers of the option of adding a movie to their queue, simply because Netflix isn't yet able to deliver it over a stream feels like a bad call. Sure, customers looking to stream a movie over a tablet PC or an iPhone may be disappointed when they learn that the movie isn't available for streaming. But why make them think that the movie isn't available at all? In a blog post, Jamie Odell, the company's director of product management, offered a vague and, quite frankly, lame reason for the change:
...providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.
How exactly does it complicate it? Does the system have trouble differentiating between a stream and a DVD order? And what are these resources that you speak of? Isn't this pretty much an automated process?
The beauty of these Netflix apps are that they let customers do more than just stream - they allow them to keep both accounts - the streams and the DVDs - active, all from the app. But maybe that's the point. Maybe Netflix is trying to discourage users from ordering DVDs as a way to push them further into the world of streaming.
There were more than 250 comments on the Netflix blog post Monday, the majority of which were against the change. Hopefully, Netflix - which has had a reputation lately for giving customers the tools they want to enhance the experience - will hear them loud and clear when they say that they still want those DVDs.