Netflix App for iPhone is Problematic for Apple

As Multichannel News reported last week, Netflix is moving to launch an app for the iPhone that will let users take advantage of the Netflix Watch Instantly service. Already available on a variety of other platforms (see the Multichannel News article for a rundown), its launch for the iPhone puts Apple in a dangerous position in light of the FCC’s recent inquiry into Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application.

In rejecting the Google Voice application, Apple cited its duplication of functions already available on the iPhone. Considering that Apple’s iTunes store is the world’s most successful digital media store, and iTunes is an essential part of the iPhone experience, I doubt Apple can make a legitimate argument that the Netflix application does not duplicate an already-available feature. After all, the iPhone allows users to download music and video from the iTunes store. If the Netflix application is approved, Apple’s reasoning for denying Google’s Voice application seems inconsistent, to say the least.

As Apple (along with Google and AT&T) has until August 21 to reply to the FCC’s information request, the timing of the Netflix application release will be interesting. The Multichannel News article (published July 30) simply stated that the application would be released “soon.”