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Netflix Bows Apps for iPhone, iPod Touch

26 Aug, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix Aug. 26 announced the availability of free apps for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch that allow subscribers to stream movie rentals on the portable media devices.

Long anticipated, the apps follow up a separate app Netflix bowed with the launch of the iPad tablet computer in April. Available via both Wi-Fi and 3G networks, the apps allow Netflix subscribers to organize TV episodes and movies based on members' personal preferences, popular genres, new arrivals and individual instant queues.

Users can choose a movie or TV episode from any of the lists and just tap the innovative multi-touch user interface to watch instantly or save the title for viewing later.

The app is available from the App Store at www.itunes.com/appstore/.

“Apple has changed the game for mobile devices," Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement. “We're excited that our members can now carry Netflix around in their pockets and instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed from Netflix right to their iPhone or iPod touch.”

Eric Wold, analyst with Merriman Curhan Ford in New York, said the deal is significantly bigger than the iPad app due to the install base for the iPhone and the fact that consumers likely carry an iPhone around more often than an iPad.

"Anything Netflix can do to provide more opportunities for its subscribers will only help to drive more new subscribers to the service as well as increase retention levels for existing subscribers (reduce churn)," Wold said.

Indeed, the iPad has about 3 million users while the iPhone/Touch have about 50 million users, according to Edward Woo, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles.

Streaming movies and episodic TV programming via apps isn't new to the iPhone, iPod or iPad, with Palo Alto, Calif.-based mSpot last September bowing technology that gives users access to titles on a transactional basis (from $2.99) from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, Paramount Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, among others.

MSpot found that 78% of respondents in a survey were more likely to use a mobile movie service that didn’t require more time consuming downloading, with another 74% indicating that a wait of more than 10 minutes for a movie would be unacceptable.

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