By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 02 Apr 2010
Netflix April 2 officially acknowledged that a Netflix app would be included in the April 3 launch of the Apple iPad tablet computer – less than 24 hours after the Los Gatos, Calif.-based online DVD rental pioneer had refused to do so, despite widespread reports to the contrary.
The free app, among more than 700 third-party apps included with the iPad launch, allows Netflix subscribers to stream movies and TV programming to the iPad, in addition to manage their DVD/Blu-ray Disc rental queues.
In a statement, founder and CEO Reed Hastings said he was excited to be part of one of the most hyped consumer electronics product launches since the iPhone.
“The innovation and consumer appeal of iPad make it a perfect device for instantly watching TV episodes and movies streamed from Netflix,” Hastings said.
The iPad with Wi-Fi retails for $499 for the 16GB version, $599 for the 32GB and $699 for the 64GB. The Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available in late April at $629 for the 16GB version, $729 for the 32GB and $829 for the 64GB.
The inclusion of a Netflix app by Apple is significant in that it marks the first time the company has allowed a third-party aggregator of movies and TV programming into its closed universe.
Then again, Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming service is not transaction-based and thereby not a direct competitor to iTunes.
The Walt Disney Co. said an ABC TV app allowing access to repurposed content from the Disney-owned network, including episodes of “Lost,” would be included for free on the iPad. Access to rival networks NBC and CBS (via a reconfigured Web site) is already featured on the iPad, including access to episodes of “Survivor” and promotional clips to “The Mentalist” and “How I Met Your Mother,” among others.
The New York Times reported that Hulu is close to finalizing an Apple app.
The Netflix App for iPad will be available from the App Store on iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.
Apple is expected to sell 7.1 million iPads globally this year, despite the lack of a Flash-based drive, according to research firm iSuppli.
Some have called the long-term viability of the iPad into question because of its nonsupport of Adobe Flash — the multimedia platform from Adobe Systems.
Absent Flash, iPad users will not be able to view Flash-driven content, the dominant online video platform.
“Until Apple addresses this issue one way or another, its decision not to support Flash — communicated earlier on by Apple CEO Steve Jobs — will have a limiting effect on the iPad’s sales potential,” said Francis Sideco, principal analyst, wireless communications with iSuppli.
Regardless, the El Segundo, Calif.-based firm said iPad sales will double to 14.4 million in 2011 and nearly triple to 20.1 million in 2012.