It didn’t take very long for one of the most thriving companies on the market to reveal its underlying capitalist schematic. According to CNN.com, Netflix, the movie rental business that made its name providing the utmost convenience to its customers by delivering rentals to your door, has followed the American economic model for success by eliminating its competition and now just recently has announced plans to raise subscription prices.
Just a couple years ago, the movie rental business was in serious trouble searching for a way to take advantage of an ever-expanding world of online convergence. Blockbuster was falling victim to the greatest recession America has ever seen and had to raise its fees for both in-store and online rentals. Its great leap onto the internet that allowed its customers to have overnight access to the films they want is what began a wave of lackadaisical consumers finding comfort in the instantaneous nature of online rental. Suddenly, a gateway was opened for an emerging company, Netflix, to see if it could enhance this new innovation by jumping on board with better marketing strategies, cheaper prices, and what would soon be its masterpiece–online streaming of rentals directly through a computer or through a video game console. The feedback was outstanding, visible by the increasing numbers of customers making the great leap from Blockbuster to Netflix for all the aforementioned reasons.
Netflix seemed unstoppable then and America watched as Blockbuster stores nationally began to disappear after the evaporation of their consumer base. What appeared to be a positive injection into the American market did not account for the merchandising and foods sold at Blockbuster stores that were eliminated by the dismantling of the company, creating a negative economic blow.
But now it’s 2010, and the leap of faith that many consumers made in following the online/streaming rental trend and jumping ship for Netflix has not been honored by the company. It’s alleged to have voiced its plans to raise its prices for online rentals while providing cheaper programming for individuals streaming from a gaming console or computer. This betrayal of consumer trust doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone; when it eliminated the competition (Blockbuster) and monopolized the industry as it does now, it became free to control the market’s prices and optimal form of viewing.
Surprising or not, Netflix has officially signed it’s own ethical business death-wish. The great leap from Blockbuster came from Netflix’s convenience and separation from the modern “walk-in” movie store. Lower prices and customer satisfaction were the backbone of it’s emergence as a rental superpower but they’ve surrendered such praise by seeking more financial leverage and control over the industry. If America wishes to maintain its integrity by not yielding to Netflix’s newfound, overly capitalist venture, they will voice their displeasure. They will argue that business ethics is more valuable than jeopardizing economic competition. A great nation such as the United States truly thrives on capitalism, but finds itself to be its own worst enemy at times by driving competition between corporations to provide what may appear to be the most convenient but are ultimately negative services to citizens.
Only time will tell if Netflix’s newest price increases will affect the American people or how the services will drive new demand for products with streaming capabilities like Play-Station or XBox 360. But one thing is certain, if America doesn’t monitor emerging companies that make exponential leaps to the forefront of various markets, similar to that of Netflix,the recovering nation will may suffer a relapse into an economic spiral.