Ask people what their favorite website is, and increasingly you’ll hear Hulu (at least in the US). The NBC and Fox-backed online video service just kicks ass when it comes to content, interface and overall execution. And now it’s apparently going to attempt to translate that into a kickass iPhone app, according to Business Insider.
Sure, there are other iPhone apps that offer video streaming such as Joost, i.TV and TV.com, but none come close to Hulu in terms of content and public appeal so far. But the most interesting part may be that the Hulu app would apparently work over 3G connections, as well as WiFi. The current crop of video streaming apps are mostly confined to WiFi usage — no doubt at least in part because AT&T doesn’t want streaming video clogging the pipes.
In fact, there’s a rumor going around right now that AT&T is the reason that Apple rejected an app by SlingPlayer from the App Store. That hasn’t been confirmed, but the thought is that just like the supposed Hulu app, the SlingPlayer app would have worked over 3G. So if a Hulu app does carry the same functionality, it stands to reason that it would be rejected as well.
But, the new iPhone 3.0 software, due this summer, touts live video streaming as one of its core new features. Perhaps Hulu could work with Apple to get such an app working. And the rumored new version of the iPhone supposedly will offer faster connection speeds, which could help ease the bandwidth strain AT&T would see on its end.
Hulu has gotten itself into a bit of controversy on the web recently as it has been in a sparring match with the popular media center software startup Boxee. Hulu’s content partners, it seems, don’t want their content easily accessible on a television — a process which Boxee greatly simplifies for many people. But their position for Hulu on a device like the iPhone could be different because it gives them another outlet to monetize their content via ads.
Of course, you have to wonder what Apple would think about a Hulu app, because it sells through iTunes many of the television shows Hulu streams for free. You can’t currently browse to Hulu through the iPhone’s web browser because the iPhone doesn’t support Flash, which Hulu uses.
Business Insider’s Dan Frommer tells me his source on this Hulu app is a trusted one, but that the time frame for the launch is hazy. That, mixed with the potential problems with AT&T and Apple leads me to warn everyone: Don’t get your hopes up just yet.