Netflix has launched an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that lets subscribers watch movies and TV shows on the Apple devices.
Netflix, which is battling a growing number of competitors trying to attract mobile-device users, made its application available Thursday on Apple's App Store. The app is free, but a person needs a Netflix subscription, which starts at $8.99 a month, to use it.
The application can deliver movies and TV shows over Wi-Fi or a 3G wireless connection. How large the library will be is not clear. Content providers typically negotiate separate licenses for delivery over mobile devices.
Netflix has been moving aggressively to expand its mobile offering. The company in July announced a deal to stream select movies from Hollywood studio Relativity Media before they are released on DVDs, a first for Netflix. Netflix also has added shows from pay-TV channel Epix and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Along with increasing content, Netflix has been expanding the number of consumer electronics that can access its service. Today, a person can tap Netflix's library from an Apple iPad, Blu-ray players, personal computers and televisions. The company, founded on renting DVDs by mail, says 61% of its 15 million subscribers use its online service.
However, Netflix is facing a growing number of competitors, ranging from Redbox movie-rental vending machines from Coinstar, cable TV providers expanding their service to mobile devices and online TV streaming services, such as Hulu.
This month, Verizon introduced an iPad app that would let subscribers of its FIOS TV service access programming from the tablet-style computer. The company plans to release the app next year.
In the meantime, network service providers have a ways to go before video streaming can become a trouble-free service. Depending on traffic and location, 3G wireless networks often lack the bandwidth to deliver video without interruptions.