Latest Netflix survey gauges interest in iPhone app

Despite being the pioneers of DVD rental-by-mail and the slayers of Blockbuster Video, Netflix has been a bit slow to make the move from set-top boxes to mobile devices. But that may change, if the company’s latest survey is any indication of things to come.

According to Hacking Netflix, the survey in question has a single question proposing what an iPhone-based service might look like. In this presently imaginary service, subscribers have the ability to watch a library of new releases, classic movies, and TV episodes from the comfort of their iPhones. Movies take at least thirty seconds to start, can be rewound, paused, fast forwarded, and replayed, and are all counted as part of the Netflix membership at no extra cost.

The one catch is that this imaginary service requires that your iPhone be connected to a Wi-Fi network, likely the result of not-so-imaginary bandwidth restrictions imposed by AT&T and other carriers.

Some of Netflix’s past survey questions have materialized as real products and services, such as Netflix on the Wii. But Netflix hasn’t been so gung ho about the mobile arena in the recent past. CEO Reed Hastings said in an interview with Reuters last September that Netflix is “not focused on mobile yet, but (instead) on the TV […] We will get to mobile eventually.” Hastings repeated that sentiment as recently as a January earnings call: ”It is not a huge priority for us because we are so focused on the larger screen. Until we get our TV ubiquity and our Blu-ray ubiquity and we are getting close on video game ubiquity we would next turn to the small screen. It is just not a primary movie watching [device].”

Still, it’d be nice to do away with those annoying, red envelopes that barely fit into P.O. boxes. Maybe Netflix has seen an iPad-sized light?

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