2010 Year in Review: iPad and Netflix, a picture perfect couple

Netflix was one of the first apps many new Apple iPad owners downloaded when they got their 10-inch tablet in April, and the combination has gone a long way toward changing the way Americans think of "mobile video."

Apple's iPad is, arguably, the biggest story of 2010; it launched a new category of mobile viewing devices, became a category killer overnight, and will, according to several analysts, likely remain atop the category in 2011. It made Apple millions of dollars as one of the hottest selling tech releases in history; some 3 million units sold in the first 80 days on the market, most likely surprising even Apple CEO Steve Jobs with its success.

The device made watching a movie or TV show on a small screen enjoyable again, pushing bigger screens, at least for the moment, to the background.

ABC, Hulu, and PBS all launched iPad apps. AT&T and Verizon both have launched apps to bring the device into their ecosystem.

While 3D TV's and Google TV ran into stiff headwinds with consumers, the iPad was embraced.

So, too, was Netflix, itself a category killer, or at least the cause of a bankruptcy or two among its competitors.

The one-time DVD-by-mail company has, over the past several months, seen its popularity on Wall Street and Main Street soar. It's aggressively signed new content deals--spending some $1 billion for a five-year deal with Epix to stream newer releases, a deal to stream for first-run theatrical releases from independent film company FilmDistrict, inking a deal with media and entertainment company Relativity Media, giving Netflix exclusive access to stream Relativity-controlled first run movies--and has, despite the thinly veiled threats of pay-TV backers, managed to keep Hollywood in its pocket.

Together, Netflix and the iPad have forced pay-TV operators to rethink their strategy, and their priorities, as we close 2010.