Netflix considers an iPhone app

The video service is polling customers on their interest in its streaming software as an application for the iPhone.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
2 min read

Netflix currently offers its streaming software through the browser, and on all three major gaming consoles. Could the iPhone be next?

The DVD rental and streaming service is at least considering it. The blog Hacking Netflix reported Monday night that some customers are being asked if they would use a Wi-Fi version of the streaming software on their iPhone.

Here is the text of one of the questions in the survey:

Imagine that Netflix offers its subscribers the ability to instantly watch movies & TV episodes on their iPhone. The selection availability to instantly watch includes some new releases, lots of classics and TV episodes. There are no advertisements or trailers, and movies start in as little as 30 seconds. You can fast-forward, rewind, and pause or watch again. The movies & TV episodes you instantly watch are included in your Netflix membership for no additional fee.

Whenever you want to instantly watch content on your iPhone, your iPhone must be connected to a Wi-Fi network (such as one you might have at home or at work, or in public places like coffee shops, book stores, hotels, airports, etc.)

If this functionality were available, how likely would you or someone in your household be to instantly watch movies & TV episodes on your iPhone via a Wi-Fi network?

A survey doesn't mean they'll actually make a product, and it's not entirely clear what role surveys play in Netflix's product decisions. But it is interesting to see that Netflix is at least considering the iPhone (and by definition, the iPod Touch, and even the iPad) as a platform. Other blogs have pointed out that this same kind of Netflix customer survey showed up in customer e-mail inboxes asking about the usefulness of Netflix service on the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PlayStation 3. Netflix is now available on the PS3 and will be in the Wii this spring.

A Netflix representative said the company is always conducting customer research and that this was one of many surveys it does to increase its presence in different gadgets.

"Netflix has the goal of being ubiquitous on whatever device you want to watch movies and TV episodes on," said company spokesman Steve Swasey. "Right now our goal is getting on the TV." That includes through both Blu-ray players, Internet-connected TVs, game consoles, and standalone devices like TiVo and Roku. "We do a number of surveys. At any given time Netflix has more than 20 surveys going," he added. "We do a lot of research, it's part of our DNA."

This post was updated at 2 p.m. PT with comment from Netflix.