Netflix Instant Hitting iPhone in Summer, Ebert Disapproves

June 7, 2010
Source: Engadget

Netflix on iPhone

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?

Find more posts: Cool Stuff, Editorial, Netflix Instant



nah sounds like a good idea but i bet its gonna "buffer" alot

pulp fiction212 on Jun 7, 2010


can't really argue with what Ebert said, I too like opening a book and smelling the paper and ink, you just can't get that with an "Ipad."

Xerxex on Jun 7, 2010


Bout time. I've been waiting for this app forever.

Daniel Felts on Jun 7, 2010


Man, Ebert has really become the old man yelling for kids to get off his lawn recently. Between this and the whole 'there will never be a video game that could be considered art' thing he's really starting to look like an ass. (more so than maybe he did?) Opening up new avenues to enjoy film, books, comics etc. doesn't kill the prior versions! It simply adds to the flexibility. This is good for everyone, content providers can make more money and consumers can consume in more ways.

Steve Wallace on Jun 7, 2010


@2 I'm loving being able to carry around a whole library in something that's the size of a magazine. I guess if I ever agree with you, 2, I'll bring along a book to sniff periodically, so that I can have the whole experience for something the size of a magazine plus one paperback. @4 Yeah no doubt. Particularly on the gaming topic -- I'm betting there were painting critics that looked at motion pictures and scoffed that they would never be art. Nothing says "oh crap I'm getting old and my prejudice is showing" like using the word "never."

dRailer on Jun 7, 2010


streaming quicktime podcasts on the iPhone doesn't even work consistently so they'll never be able to pull off streaming a 2 hour movie.

peloquin on Jun 7, 2010


@Steve Wallace, @dRailer: I too was just thinking about his derision of video game art. He just cannot comprehend that these mediums and the Art (with a capital 'A') associated with them fill different voids than film. Video games and mobile devices are not just going to oust his precious cinema, but if they do it will be because we the consumers want them to.

Prestron on Jun 7, 2010


They already have streaming movies on other phones, they work pretty well.

LINKFX on Jun 7, 2010


Fuck what Roger Ebert thinks. He's like 100 now, so he's way out of touch with modern audiences.

Brad Clooney on Jun 7, 2010


Ebert is so far past relevant at this point it's sad. I for one am going to pick the app up the second it's released because I would love to be able to choose a film or TV show from a vast library no matter where I am. Long line? Netflix Instant. Long car ride (not driving of course)? Netflix Instant. Waiting for friends to show up to a bar? Netflix Instant. Waiting for your date to put "the final touches" on her makeup? Netflix Instant. Ease of use and constant availability of media should be something that NO critic is against.

Pete the Geek on Jun 7, 2010


i can get behind what ebert said cause movies are sopposed to be an event and this just looks like one step closer to abandening theaters all together and you know that thats what their going to aim at in the future

rowdy on Jun 7, 2010


don't have no Ipad or plan to get one. What I bloody want is a freaking app for the Iphone and Ipod that allows you to search the Netflix site, along with reordering and updating your queues!!!!!!!!!!!

Mars on Jun 8, 2010


that smell of your book is the smell of a dead tree

L1A on Jun 8, 2010


I don't know how seriously I can take Ebert after he gave "the last song" a good review. Plus aren't people already downloading digital copies of movies into their phones? what's the big deal?

almartva on Jun 8, 2010


It's a matter of personal preference. If you want to watch a movie on your iPhone, why should anyone care? Who is anyone to say you can't watch a movie while stuck in the airport or on a long train commute to work because it discounts the artistic value of cinema...If Ebert will only watch movies in a theater then I'm sure someone will save him an aisle seat, but he shouldn't pass judgment on the rest of us who wouldn't mind watching a movie anywhere, anytime.

xan on Jun 8, 2010


If I am going to watch a film I want to be able to see every detail and not put my eyes at risk of strain against a small screen, BIG FUCKING SCREENS ALL THE WAY none on this netflix crap on your iPone or Netflix altogether...go to the cinema or go and buy a DVD.

DiR3cT on Jun 8, 2010


I have 7 or so digital copies of films I have loaded onto my iPhone. Honestly, Ive watched parts of a few movies on them, but I've never had the time to watch the whole thing or devote my attention to one. It's a really weird non-cinematic experience. I think the iPhone screen wmay just be too small to enjoy a film on. Netflix however is pretty awesome, and their library of hard to find foreign cinema is growing everyday, which is really great.

Linkfx on Jun 8, 2010


This combined with his view on 3D is pushing my opinion of Ebert into the more than respectful category. I mean, it's fine for people who care to, but I too will never watch anything over five minutes on a phone sized screen. I don't even watch TV episodes on my 24" monitor.

bozo on Jun 8, 2010


Completely agree that certain films can be viewed on a phone or small format device and still be enjoyable...he'll they can be fun even if you don't finish the film. Using The Jerk is a good example Ethan. I have about 15 movies in my phone so that wherever I go, I can watch them at my leisure, on a whim and it certainly makes any dull moments enjoyable. The ability to fire up something like Shaun of the Dead when the occasion calls for it (like in a taxi, on a plane, or waiting in a long line) is an intangible perk of having a smart phone. I do however have serious doubts about AT&T's ability to deliver the bandwidth required if every iPhone user decides to watch a movie at the exact same time... Also, well said @15 xan!

Marc on Jun 8, 2010


i worry about a generation that relies on technology to "Enjoy" dull moments (aka moments not in front of a computer/tv/video game). I understand both sides of this argument, but I lean more towards Eberts side. Not that I dont think ANY movie shouldnt be seen on a phone, but I guess my argument is WHY would you? hell, I wont waste my time on a movie if its been reformatted from its original format, to me its like spoiling your meal! even on long flights Id rather see something Ive already watched than watch a cut movie ive never seen. Maybe its just respect for the format or the intended viewing of the art? ..I like to be in the moment which is why when I sit to watch a movie, it also needs to be right, at a theater or on my couch with the lights right etc... I do think its cool for netflix to have this available, but I hope this doesnt encourage people to consider watching movies on phones as real "Cinematic Experiences" Thats not an attack at #19, but ive noticed people just cant sit still and enjoy the moment anymore..they are too busy texting someone about it while its happening!

Lando is a system not a man on Jun 8, 2010


I don't feel sorry for AT&T and Apple users. Now that AT&T has put data caps on their data service and unlimited data is history except for customers that got the unlimited data plan before the change, things like Netflix on the Iphone are almost useless unless it's used on Wifi since movies being streamed would quickly put you over that 2GB cap unless you want to pay an additional $10 per gigabyte. (Which would be horribly stupid.) Not too many people are gonna sit at a gas station or coffee shop to watch a movie streamed on their IPhone. If you have that much time to spend there it's either because you for whatever reason have no choice, or just no life. So while this is a novel idea, AT&T just crippled it pretty darn well.

BOOGER on Jun 8, 2010


Hmmm...personally I don't see the difference between sitting at the back of a movie house and having a high def display a few inches from my nose...except that with headphones on the sound is definitely better than at the movies (especially without the kids talking in front and the guy kicking the back of my seat).

Howard on Jul 8, 2010


When's it launching!?!?

Ali C on Jul 16, 2010


Who cares what Ebert thinks. If you want to watch a movie on a 60 inch screen go ahead. If you want to watch it on a 3.5 inch screen, go ahead

DAB on Aug 10, 2010

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