NetFlix, Communism, and You
Today's post has little to do with marketing beyond understanding spin. It's more a clever observation brought on by a very auspicious ad.
Karl Marx basically said that Democracy is the first step to Communism. At least I think it was him... someone important wrote it... I digress.
In the video rental world we can actually see the microcosm of an advanced governing system. Allow me to illuminate:
When video rentals started it was not dominated by Blockbuster and the very idea of NetFlix would have had people laughing in your face. I will admit that Block Buster was a major player since the get-go; but for now lets just suspend that fact.
So early on many video rental stores were the only stores in town. They were local owned and operated. This is basically a democracy, each store's selection and availability based on personal knowledge and supply and demand. It offered some interesting benefits (and since I live in very small town with just ONE movie store where they literally rememebr your name, I can say this from experience) - the owners and workers could help you select good movies and special ordering movies is a breeze. The downside was selections were limited as well as having limited quantities available to rent. Yes, our democratic system worked, but it didn't last too long.
It wasn't long before major chains, lead by Block Buster, really kicked it up a notch. With improved selections and centralized corporate structure you gave up a certain level of personal service for improved quantities and selections, and sometimes even lower prices. Yes, this socialst form of half-central and half-local governing is pretty snazzy.
And now NetFlix is ready to overtake Block Buster. Doesn't anyone else find it not-surprising that NetFlix is nothing more than a centralized warehouse that literally dishes out pre-destined portions of what movies you CAN and CAN NOT watch? Sure, you make a list of the movies you want, but ultimately you're not even the one selecting them anymore. What if NetFlix decided nobody would rent the movie Shop Girl because it was so bad nobody should ever want to (it is, trust me, don't rent it.) They have the power to do that, we gave it to them.
NetFlix is a communism, with all the pros and cons of a communism. It isn't a good thing or a bad thing. I'm not a 1950s anti-soviet flier; I just find it really strange that such an advanced concept of governing can be so simply explained through the evolution of movie chains.
Democracy leads to communism. That's what some important guy said, and in this case he sure was right.
Oddly, NetFlix does have an outstanding track record; and comes reccomended from every single person I know who uses it. I'll stick to my local store for now though; they give out free popcorn with every rental- made in a real popcorn popper!