索尔•卡普兰@skap5是商业创新工场（Business Innovation Factory）的创始人和主要推动者。
The Blockbuster story is about a business model that was successful until a disruptive technology and a new business model displaced it. The story isn't unique to Blockbuster. All business models are vulnerable to being netflixed. Even Netflix has to worry about being netflixed.
Of course, the biggest threat of disruption to Netflix's business model comes from the ability to download or watch movies directly online. It is only a matter of time until both videocassettes and DVDs seem like an antiquated way to access digital video content. Netflix has been aggressively evolving its business model experimenting with new online movie offerings and pricing models. But can Netflix avoid being netflixed itself?
Netflix initially tried to bundle streaming as a new product offering within its current business model. For customers that wanted to access movies through both the mail and online streaming it offered a popular pricing plan of unlimited streaming and one movie out by mail at a time for $9.99 a month. Many liked the offer but with increasing costs it wasn't a sustainable proposition for Netflix. The growing cost of streaming rights and the increasing costs for bandwidth, infrastructure and support to make streaming available were making a one low price per month for unlimited streaming and DVD delivery untenable for Netflix. Without the cash to gain streaming rights for popular content Netflix would not be able to please customers interested in streaming. And of course customers who were only interested in a low price mail delivery model had no interest in paying higher prices for real time movie streaming. Something had to give.
Netflix announced a whopper of a price increase to all of its customers in July of 2011. They decided to get rid of the $9.99 bundled price plan and to separate the two offerings each priced individually at $7.99. It was a 60% price increase and customer reaction was immediate and angry. Blog posts and comments piled up across the Web in reaction and over a million customers voted with their feet by unsubscribing to the Netflix service. The business model that had worked so well for the DVD-by-mail service did not work well to deliver online streaming bundled with the mail service.
It only took two months for Netflix's next move. In September of 2011 it decided to split up into two discreet business units. One for online streaming continuing to operate under the name Netflix and another independent business unit established under the new name Qwikster to operate the company's legacy DVD-by-mail service. It became clear to Netflix that trying to grow the streaming business within the core DVD-by-mail business model wouldn't work.
The most important lesson for all leaders to take away from Reed Hastings' experience at Netflix is from his simple but profound admission, "In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success". Hastings goes on to say in a blog post, "My greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something -- like AOL (AOL) dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly".
And then less than a month later after losing over 1 million customers and the bleeding continuing Reed Hastings announced Netflix had changed its mind again and would not be going forward with a separate Qwikster business model and unit. They would continue to blend the online and DVD-by-mail offerings and pricing. He amazingly contradicted his comment that companies rarely die from moving too fast in his announcement saying, "There is a difference between moving quickly and moving too fast." It was painful to hear and to watch Netflix in the throws of being netflixed.
I don't know how the movie will turn out but one thing is clear. Business models just don't last as long as they used to. They are all vulnerable to being netflixed. No one and no organization are immune, not even Netflix.
Saul Kaplan @skap5 is the Founder and Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory.