Hulu: No iPhone Version Soon

Web video JV Hulu tells us it’s not planning to launch an iPhone/iPod touch edition of its service any time soon. That squashes a rumour on MacRumors, which said that Hulu was planning to launch an iPhone version of its site “as early as this Thursday.”

Why aren’t they? Here’s our guess:

First, the tech hurdles: Hulu’s videos require Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash plugin, which isn’t available yet — or ever? — for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and its Safari browser.

Hulu could conceivably get around that by making a second version of its site that uses a different kind of video — called H.264 — which the iPhone could play back. But that would require a lot of work for a small audience.

Even if Hulu were to get around the tech angles, we’re not sure it would make a very compelling mobile service. Because you can’t download Hulu shows to your device to watch later, streaming them on a phone will be tricky at best, especially if you’re moving around. Short SNL clips would work well, but watching a 22-minute Simpsons episode wouldn’t be very practical.

If Hulu could work around some of these limitations — like letting you download a few episodes to watch some other time, when you aren’t necessarily connected to the Internet — that might work well. But that’s a shift in Hulu’s business model from an ad-supported streaming site to an ad-supported download service. We imagine Hulu’s content partners would have some say before that happens.

What makes more sense? A deal — or a hack — to get Hulu on Apple TV, Apple’s hi-def set-top box.

See Also:
Hulu Household: Why I Got Rid Of Cable
Hulu: Lots Of Eyeballs, Little Revenue
Hulu: Great Product, Still Screwed

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