Netflix Instant Hitting iPhone in Summer, Ebert Disapproves
With the Netflix Instant streaming feature, viewers have been able to enjoy their favorite movies nearly anywhere there's a wifi internet connection floating around. However, only recently has Netflix Instant left desktop/laptop computers and televisions behind with the recent introduction of a Netflix app for Apple's slick iPad. After the Netflix app hit the iPad, we all assumed it was only a matter of time before it would hit the iPhone or iPod touch as well. Now it's official as Steve Jobs and Apple announced today (alongside their fourth gen. iPhone) that a Netflix app for both the iPhone and the iPod touch will be available this summer.
Engadget has the scoop on the new app which will be entirely free (obviously you have to be subscribed to Netflix) and will allow streaming not only through a wifi network, but also through AT&T's 3G data network as well. Much like streaming on the rest of Netflix Instant capable devices like Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and various TV and box-top sets, the app will allow you to watch a movie on your iPhone, and pick up where you left off on another Netflix device (and vice-versa). This is great news for those who have iPhones and enjoy our regular Netflix Instant recommendations or find themselves always on the go or inconveniently bored in an airport without an entire movie library at their disposal. However, not everyone was excited by this news.
Film critic Roger Ebert made a point to weigh in on the new tech development very succinctly on Twitter:
"I will never, ever, watch a movie on my iPhone. Nor will I read a book on my thumbnail."
While I can understand, in theory, that no one ever intended a movie (whether it's an action bonanza like Transformers or a drama like 12 Angry Men) be experienced on a small screen in essentially any setting imaginable, I can't help but find Roger Ebert sounding like a grumpy grandpa who says "phooey" a lot. Not every film needs to be seen in high def on a 50" HD plasma screen to be enjoyed (though you should try as often as possible), and it's not just cinematic epics and big-screen-worthy films on Netflix Instant anyway.
For my money (and to Hollywood that's what counts the most), I would love to watch The Jerk (a movie I've seen a million times) whilst stuck at an airport or in a long taxi ride thanks to my trusty iPhone. Do I need to see The Jerk on Blu-Ray to enjoy it? No. Would I recommend someone sit down with their iPhone to watch District 9 for their first time? No. But that doesn't mean I couldn't enjoy it down the road having seen it a few times already, not to mention the fact that there's plenty of television shows, cartoons and the like, that I just don't need to experience on my giant HD television whether its my first or tenth time watching them.
I can understand Ebert's need to see films in their native big screen form (and we support that), but the idea of Netflix Instant, whether it's for the iPhone or or my TV, is a matter of ease and convenience, in the same way that I can watch Ghostbusters on DVD at any moment instead of in theaters only once a year (though I'd wholly recommend doing that if you have the chance anyway). Anyone else anxious for this to launch?