Free Netflix app coming to Apple iPad?

One outlet reports that Netflix will soon release a free application for the Apple iPad. Users would still pay the flat monthly rate for a Netflix subscription.

Netflix is coming to the Apple iPad. That's the news from one blogger, who reports that a free Netflix application should be available on Saturday, when the iPad goes on sale.

As if anyone needs more incentive to get their paws on a shiny new Apple iPad. Yesterday evening, App Advice, a blog devoted to all things Apple, reported that a free Netflix app should be ready for the Saturday launch of the iPad. According to App Advice, the Netflix application will play anything in Netflix's streaming video library, from TV shows to a range of a movies.

Caveat: The app itself will be free, but you'll need a monthly subscription to Netflix to play the movies.

Still Netflix – at just about any price – is a good fit for the iPad, which is increasingly being seen as an ideal vehicle for streaming video. Back in February, we reported that execs at Hulu were planning to get into the iPad game, possibly with some sort of pay-per-play model.

Several readers told us that they would pay up to $20 per month to get Hulu access on their iPads, although others wanted to be able to watch Hulu content on other platforms, including their laptops or their television sets. "I'd pay 5 bucks [for Hulu access on the iPad] if they would allow a slick way to get it to my TV," one reader wrote. "I would not pay for the iPad [version] unless they allowed offline viewing."

This appears to be more or less Netflix's tack: One flat monthly fee for access on a range of devices.

If the App Advice news is accurate, the iPad app would be the next step in Netflix's online strategy. Last week, the company announced it had begun shipping instant streaming discs to some Nintendo Wii owners in the US. (The Wii joins the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 in Netflix compatibility.) And earlier this year, Netflix announced plans to expand streaming video into an unnamed international market.

Current Netflix streaming on PCs requires Microsoft's Flash-competitor Silverlight to serve up the video. No word on how the clips will play on the iPad, since the device famously does not support Silverlight nor Flash, much to Adobe's chagrin. Perhaps Netflix can use a workaround similar to the iPhone's YouTube app, which streams video without Flash.


Does a Netflix app make the iPad more appealing? Or is Netflix ubiquitous enough now that it no longer makes a difference? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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