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What Will Netflix's New User Profiles Look Like?

Netflix is finally moving ahead with a new way to boost its bottom line. No, not another product separation and price hike like the one that cost them subscribers in 2011. This time, the idea is to extract more value from loyal customers by offering individual household members their own user profiles within a shared account. Each profile would be customizable by viewing preference, which should help their recommendation engines stay more attuned to who exactly holds the remote. The more loyalty the people have to the service, the longer they are likely to remain a subscriber, or graduate to a more expensive plan.

Gigaom captured screen shots of the new service at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday. And the images reveal multiple iterations of the profile pages, which Netflix is reportedly live testing with different segments of its audience to figure out which version boosts interaction the most. It's fairly standard A/B testing, the process in which companies can essentially live-focus group their advancements by streaming different versions of their product to different groups of people to calculate which gets more of the behavior they are looking far.

Users who encounter the new layout and are dissatisfied with some aspects should take heart. Their response to everything from load times to the position of new tools and uptake of recommendations is probably being counted. "We are very proud of our empirical focus, because it makes us humble - we realize that most of the time, we don't know up-front what customers want," wrote Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt about the A/B process on Quora in November 2010. To that end, the seemingly basic, almost child-like screen displays are certainly intentional. As Hunt put it: ""The feedback from testing quickly sets us straight… If I had to summarize our learnings in three words: 'simple trumps complete.'"

[Image: Flickr user William Frankhouser]