Conceived 14 years ago in California’s Silicon Valley area, Netflix has grown to achieve booming success, boasting tens of millions of subscribers worldwide and, more recently, grabbing its first Golden Globe along with a handful of Emmys. Despite being younger and working off a much smaller budget than its industry-leading competitors, Netflix takes in comparably monstrous revenues. Given its accomplishments, it only seems fair to allow Netflix a little room to swagger about. Below is a humorous, yet insightful example of Netflix poking fun at its rivals. In this case, Amazon – who provides competing Amazon Instant Video – is the butt of the joke.
Netflix uses a combination of sarcasm and esoteric references to take a jab at Amazon’s most recent project, Amazon Prime Air. Although this new service is still very much in development, Netflix found it appropriate to get a head start in taunting it. While Prime Air is not necessarily a direct threat to Netflix, there is still something to be gained by producing a cloud of skepticism around a rival. Apparently, on separate occasions, Netflix has been engaging in similar tactics geared towards HBO and other competitors as well.
At first glance, the satirical video seems like a cheap and thoughtless swing at Amazon’s undeniably innovative venture. But upon closer inspection, Netflix raises a few important issues. Amazon clearly has the budget to bankroll the research and development of cutting-edge technology, but there are usually a lot of mistakes to learn from when exploring a new frontier (exploding drones may be a stretch, but it makes for good PR). Amazon is testing the metaphorical drone-delivery waters, which greatly benefits any and all other businesses that may wish to follow suit if it proves successful. If the idea is instead a flop, then Amazon is the sole loser, while competitors face no repercussions. With their parody, Netflix has transformed Amazon from bold innovator to unconcerned mogul, taking a positive away from Prime Air and turning it into a negative.
A more realistic concern to which Netflix alludes is the privacy issues that “drone to home” delivery may pose. In one exaggerated portrayal, Netflix shows a package being delivered to a man who is in the restroom. Of course, this is unrealistic, but it gets at the very legitimate problem of invasiveness. Adding a reference to phone-location services, Netflix raises the question of how much personal information companies really need to know about customers.
Overall, the “problems” with Amazon Prime Air that Netflix draws attention to are relevant, but diminutive at the moment. It seems to me that Netflix was simply engaging in promotional marketing, while at the same time trying – key word: trying – to criticize Amazon’s unprecedented project. Personally, I think it will take a lot more than satire to turn Americans away from the idea of 30-minute home delivery. Looking forward, keep an eye out for Amazon to return the favor with a counterpunch of their own. After all, Amazon does have more experience, bigger earnings, and just as many ambitious leaders as Netflix.