According to recent reports, a dedicated Hulu application could be available for the iPhone in just a few months. The application will reportedly work over Wi-Fi and AT&T’s 3G network, thereby enabling users to view programming anywhere a fast data connection is available.
There were rumors of a similar application about this time last year, however the rumors were before the App Store launched. In addition, Hulu flat-out denied it was working on such an application at the time. Fast-forward to today, and the rumors seem much more plausible, especially given the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 software update. The update makes it possible for developers to bake streaming media into applications.
Even though the rumor appears to have more credibility
today, the fact that Hulu would be in direct competition with Apple’s iTunes
business leaves a few unanswered questions.
Also, given AT&T’s past concerns and history with applications that
chew up a lot of bandwidth, it’s possible the rumored support for Wi-Fi and 3G
cell connectivity could change.
Although we won’t fully know all of the answers until a Hulu iPhone application is actually released, given the application’s potential to help sell iPhones, iPod touches, and AT&T subscriptions, it’s possible Apple and AT&T would strongly consider approving such an app.
In addition to competing with the iTunes store, the Hulu app would compete against other streaming content apps that currently available through the App Store such as the CBS TV.com app, Joost app (MTV, BET, Paramount Pictures, and NASCAR), and i.TV app. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to download TV episodes from Hulu for later viewing on an airplane or subway. For this functionality, you’ll still have to turn to iTunes.
Even with all of this competition, given Hulu’s current popularity and reports that it may be adding Disney/ABC content, Hulu still has great potential to grow its user base. Watching TV on cell phones is already popular in other countries such as Japan. Wireless providers have been trying to promote the service in the U.S., though it hasn’t really caught on yet because of expense and content availability. A Hulu iPhone app could change that. Assuming the Hulu iPhone App becomes reality, it’s expected to resemble its browser cousin for streaming content.