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There's an App for That

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"[It's] enough to keep a high school student's car filled with gas," he says.

Deming entered the University of Memphis this fall as a freshman. He plans to study computer science and engineering and, perhaps, go on to law school. While he wants software development to stay a part of his life, he doesn't plan on making a career of it.

"If you make it a career, it's something that you're not going to have too much passion for for side projects. If you're spending 8 hours a day coding and doing something at work, would you really want to come home and program and code for another few hours?" he asks.

Not surprisingly, he's already at work on his next creation, a scheduling app for college courses and related events that he plans to use himself.

"I think the best programs come from personal needs," Deming says.

Netflix

Netflix's streaming video app was so important that some technology journalists called it the iPad's killer app, the breakout star that would convince some people to purchase Apple's new tablet. The app was so important that the company's chief was invited to give Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address in June to break the story.

"Reed Hastings, our CEO, was on stage with Steve Jobs a couple weeks ago at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to show the iPhone app that [came out] this summer, and that's another wonderful opportunity for Netflix members to enjoy movies and TV episodes on the device of their choosing," enthuses Steve Swasey, Netflix's vice president of corporate communications.

Netflix's business has changed significantly since the company launched in 1999. But to hear Swasey tell it, this was all part of the plan. The company became known for its DVDs-by-mail service, which stole a lot of business from Blockbuster and other video rental stores. But the entertainment industry changed again when Netflix began offering instant streaming online.

"We always assumed we'd be streaming because we're an internet company. The founders named the company ‘Netflix,' not ‘DVDs by Mail' for that reason," says Swasey.

More than half of Netflix members currently use the "watch instantly" option, says Swasey. While the company currently ships more than 2 million DVDs per day (a number it expects to rise for another 3 years), the number of streaming customers is growing even faster, as is the number of movies available to stream.

Being able to view any of Netflix's watch-instantly titles on an iPad makes the service that much more valuable, and customers can switch between devices with no hassles. They can start watching a movie on their television, for example, and pick it up in just the right spot on their iPad. Streaming is available over Wi-Fi or 3G connections.

While Netflix refuses to discuss development, video formats, or bitrates, Swasey is happy to extol Netflix's mobile plans, and its union with the iPad.

"Netflix wants to be ubiquitous on whatever screen you watch movies or TV episodes on," Swasey says. "When Apple announced it was developing this iPad, we talked with Apple and agreed we should get Netflix on it. Our engineers did a remarkable job turning out an app so quickly. It was available the day the iPad shipped, and Netflix became the No. 1 downloaded third-party app that weekend. It still continues to be the No. 1 entertainment app on the iPad. It's the wonderful marriage of two brilliant, innovative companies."

mSpot Movies

While Netflix has become the dominant movie service on the iPad, mSpot Movies is quietly making headway in the a la carte market. It offers $2 or $3 rentals that stream instantly over Wi-Fi or 3G connections. Viewers can also sign up for a $10 per month service that gets them four movies per month. The a la carte library contains 1,500 movies, many of them new releases. The club library holds 600 titles (the number is limited by studio licensing rights issues).

mSpot had a long history streaming music and movies before the iPad came along. Its services are used on 10 cellular carriers in the U.S. and Canada, and it streams to 6 million customers. It's been streaming movies to mobile devices since 2006, when it began working with Sprint delivering movies to feature phones. It carries movies from Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Lion's Gate, Disney, and more.

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