Savvy iPhone users would point out that streaming video is already available for the device, but unfortunately, it can only be found through apps loaded onto "jalbroken" iPhones — devices whose native operating systems have been overridden.
But at the same time, the iPhone comes bundled with a robust application for YouTube, and although the content isn't live, it certainly streams in qiuickly. What's the difference?
Wi-Fi. To play stream videos, an iPhone user must make use of a nearby Wi-Fi station, otherwise they'd have to rely on AT&T's 3G data network, which doesn't support streaming content.
"AT&T — cue the Imperial March from "Star Wars" — has been very restrictive over streaming video applications in the app store," said SlashFilm's Peter Sciretta, referrring to the foreboding orchestral music that heralded the arrival of villains in the classic movie franchise. "The company stripped the SlingPlayer app from being able to stream over 3G due to concerns that a streaming app might be too much for the cell network."
Enter Netflix, the popular video rental service. According to multiple reports, Netflix is prepping an iPhone app that would give users the power not only to manage their video rental queues, but also to watch some movies and TV shows online. The move may give AT&T the impetus it needs to make its 3G network more friendly to streaming content.
"It seems to me that it is only a matter of time before these type of features really take off on other phones," Sciretta said, suggesting that AT&T may have to give in and add support for streaming video to keep up with competitors.