Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix Coming to iPhone, if AT&T (And Your Phone Bill) Can Keep Up

Here’s another bright, shiny object for Steve Jobs to brandish in front of iPhone owners: News that Netflix is bringing its streaming video service to the iPhone.

The app, demoed onstage at Apple’s developers conference by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, will be available later this summer. Like the company’s iPad app, it will be free, though you’ll have to be a Netflix (NFLX) subscriber to actually access the company’s catalog of digital movies and TV shows.

And like the iPad app, the app will stream video via both Wi-Fi and AT&T’s wireless service. I checked with Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey to see if Apple (AAPL) or AT&T (T) would limit the amount of bandwidth the app could chew up, and he said no: “Same catalog. Unlimited. It will be Netflix as you know it and love it, but in your pocket.”

No caching, though. Like the iPad, you’ll need to be connected to the Web to use the app.

But that’s still pretty cool. And it’s also going to be a lot of strain on AT&T’s network. Which is, um, still pretty strained. I doubt many of you are going to watch all of “District 9” on your phones, but you may well watch an episode of “Weeds” (first couple seasons are pretty good, but then…). And if the carrier can’t handle phone calls, how is it going to keep up with that?

So: Either AT&T really is going to resolve its capacity problems by the end of this summer, as Steve Jobs semi-promised last week at D8. Or everyone involved assumes that AT&T’s new data plans will cut down on the number of people using iPhones to do all the cool, cutting-edge stuff Jobs showed off today.

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