For a long time, AT&T resisted the entry of bandwidth hungry video streaming apps on the App Store claiming that these iPhone apps could potentially clog their networks.
However, with significant investments made on building additional network infrastructure in the past few months, AT&T has recently started allowing iPhone apps such as SlingPlayer Mobile to work over its 3G network.
Nevertheless, concerns about network clogging continue to prevail in the high iPhone density areas like New York and San Francisco. In order to address this problem, Apple is reported to have modified its review policies to approve only those video streaming apps that come with adaptive bitrates.
Adaptive bitrate is fast becoming an industry standard whereby developers render the videos at bitrates conducive to the users' network connection. This would mean that videos will be rendered at lower bitrates when the user's 3G connection is overloaded and at higher bitrates otherwise.
The latest developer to be subjected to Apple's modified rules is Justin.tv. TechCrunch reports that the popular live-streaming service had their iPhone app rejected because of the failure to incorporate adaptive bitrates. According to Justin.tv's marketing VP Evan Soloman, Apple's app review staff approved their iPhone app only after their company agreed to offer videos in two differing streams at 64kbps and 200kbps. He says:
“We were a bit confused by this request at the time, as none of the other live video applications in the App Store had that feature. Apple was very adamant that we add it—they wouldn’t approve our app without it.”
In my opinion, Apple is doing the right thing by enforcing streaming iPhone apps to incorporate adaptive bit rates as it provides optimal experience for users and are quite surprised at Soloman's comments.
What's your take on Apple's move to enforce adaptive bit rates on video streaming iPhone apps?