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NetFlix, By The Envelope Please

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Business 2.0 has a short but sweet story on Netflix, and the evolution of its envelope from its early days to now. (Photos are here.)

In 1999, Netflix started out with a heavy cardboard mailer. With only 100,000 subscribers, costs weren’t a concern yet. Then the company experimented with plastic envelopes, which proved not to be recyclable, and padding, which added too much to postage costs. Both top-loading and side-loading envelopes made an appearance. Seven years of tweaking have paid of… How well those iconic red envelopes will help the company fend off the newest threat – video-on-demand – remains to be seen.

3 Responses to “NetFlix, By The Envelope Please”

  1. Jesse Kopelman

    Rising fuel costs my just be VOD’s ace in the hole. Snail mail is just going to keep getting more and more expensive even as bits/second keep getting cheaper and cheaper. The crossover point certainly seems like it will be within the next 5 years.

  2. the vod user data from cable guys shows that the mass market adoption is not here … yet! hopefully soon. as someone just remarked, the snail mail is trumping the broadband delivery for now.

  3. The question isn’t if the envelope can fend off Video on Demand. It cannot — VOD will kill by-mail rentals. The question is just when.

    That said, I’m a user of Netflix, more or less a fan, and I look forward to seeing how their VOD practice competes.