By Harry McCracken | Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm
At this point, it’s just a rumor that’s giving Netflix’s stock a nice goose: Speculation has it that Amazon.com might move to buy Netflix, a merger that makes immense sense to me. Between its Amazon MP3 service and Video on Demand and the Kindle and Audible, Amazon.com is working overtime to reinvent itself for the era–coming sooner than we think–that virtually all content is digital. Netflix, meanwhile, has an enjoyable and well-done Watch Instantly service, but its selection is sparse and less-than-current; if Watch Instantly is as good as it’s going to get, it’s hard to imagine Netflix stating Netflix once it no longer makes sense to mail shiny discs.
An Amazon that owned Netflix would get the opportunity to market digital downloads to all those happy Netflix customers; a Netflix that was part of Amazon would have access to Amazon’s ambitious video-on-demand platform and content deals. It would probably leave both companies and their customers better off—and hey, it give Apple an iTunes Store competitor that was that much larger and stronger.
I’m just a customer of Amazon and Netflix, not a shareholder. But if mergers were voted on by shoppers, I’d give this one my stamp of approval. Even if it’s not really under discussion at the moment, it feels sort of inevitable…