Netflix announced that it will spin off its DVD rental service into a company called Qwikster. I realize we’re all supposed to be Steve Jobs and imagine where the market will be and so forth, but I’m not sure this is the brightest move.
There’s one thing that’s beyond Netflix’s control: the availability and cost of high-speed internet connection. Even if they can convince DVD renters to switch (I’m sticking with DVD–once you have a working DVD, you don’t have to worry about slow or faulty internet connections), many people have access to mail (although for how much longer remains to be seen), but they don’t have high-speed internet, either due to cost or availability.
Even if that’s the future, most people do own some sort of DVD player. The advantage the company formerly known as Qwikster has is the ability to get you the movie you want (on DVD) in one to two days. Lots of companies potentially can stream video (PORN!), but not many can rapidly swap DVDs. If nothing else, the DVDs serve as a ‘gateway drug’ to downloads.