So what went wrong? I don't want to focus too much on the negatives, so I'll give a brief summary of the denigration of the Netflix brand. The changes started long before the recent price hike and splitting of the DVD and streaming services. First of all, they removed the Friends feature and eventually deleted any community elements, including unique reviews. They also shifted the company's focus towards technologies and away from serving its customers. The moves all share one thing in common; they were designed to raise the stock price and maximize their wealth. This goal is not bad on its own but it fails if ownership disregards the reasons for its original success.
Obviously, the goal of any big corporation is to make money. Even from a financial standpoint, however, the changes failed to consider the perception from fans. In the Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg stresses the importance of keeping Facebook cool. This was an essential component of that service's financial success. Netflix was a cool product, and evangelists had shouted to the hilltops about its greatness. They nearly destroyed evil Blockbuster in a very short time; the little guy had won! The problem was that the underdog became the behemoth.
There have been many excellent articles written about the latest Netflix changes from nearly every perspective, so I'm going to focus on my personal response. After seven years, I cancelled my entire Netflix subscription yesterday. During the past few years, my feelings have soured dramatically, and it was time to make a change. I know that international readers who don't have access to Netflix won't understand this choice. It's a small amount of money given the large selection from the mail service, despite the stupid Qwikster name. My reasons have nothing to do with money. I refuse to support a company that treats its customers like shit. It's that simple. I put Netflix in the same category as Wal-Mart, BP, and others who I only visit when no other options exist. I've seen the Jason Alexander video on Funny or Die, and I'll admit it's funny and spot-on. However, this doesn't change the fact that Netflix has brought a huge benefit to film lovers. If your favorite restaurant's servers started cursing at you and providing cold food, you'd go somewhere new.
8/1/14 Update: I've avoided spending much time on Netflix during the past three years and continue to regularly use the library. My stance has softened a little since there are benefits to having the streaming options from Netflix for TV. Even so, I still regard them with little compassion and would rather support other services whenever possible. They've found a way to remain huge by focusing more on television instead of the biggest movies. They aren't going anywhere soon, but I still believe my main points from this original post.