New Coke

John Gapper

It is a chastened Reed Hastings who has just decided to ditch his disastrous plan to split Netflix into two businesses – Netflix and “Qwikster” – and stick with what his customers liked in the first place.

Mr Hastings is right to back down – if nothing else, his bold experiment with “disruptive innovation” has mainly disrupted his own company. Its shares have not recovered since he raised prices and announced his plan to turn his DVD rental business into Qwikster while keeping the Netflix name for video streaming.

Unlike the long semi-apology he made last month when announcing the Qwikster gambit, which included a business school-style explanation of why he was separating the rapidly growing star from the cash cow, his missive today is short and to the point:

“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password … in other words, no Qwikster.”

That makes more sense than his assertion last month that:

“Another advantage of separate websites is simplicity for our members. Each website will be focused on just one thing (DVDs or streaming) and will be even easier to use.”