Why Make the Player When You Can Be It?

I found a story from Wired magazine in my FB feed that impressed me. Reed Hastings is the CEO of Netflix, and back in 2007, the company was excited about launching a new consumer product. The company isn’t in the hardware business, they were going to bring out a paperback-book-sized player that people could buy and hook up to their TVs or PCs to stream movies.

But just as the company reviewed ad campaigns and held focus groups, and were about to launch it, Hastings abruptly convened a meeting in Netflix Los Gatos conference room and declared the player dead. No, they would not sell it. Instead, Hastings idea was that they would build software that would allow other more widely sold devices to play Netflix movies.

By giving up their own player at the eleventh hour, Hastings assured the even quicker eventual death of cable, the article asserts. Because now two years later, you can find Netflix-enabled Sony TVs, some set-top boxes and every Microsoft Xbox 360 machine. Oh, and you can still buy the machine that would have been branded the Netflix Player. It’s sold by a company called Roku, that was spun off as a separate company.

The story explains that the literal name of the company is their real objective, delivering movies to more and more people on line…as opposed to ‘dvdsbymail’ which is what they’re making money doing now.