When AT&T announced it's allowing SlingPlayer for the iPhone to stream video over 3G, CEO Ralph de la Vega said that Sling "revise[d] the app to make it more bandwidth sensitive." Sling told Ars they didn't change anything. Updated.
Sling told Ars "AT&T never discussed any specific requirements with us" and that they've always had the code in there to optimize bandwidth. So, it sounds like AT&T was caught making an odd bit of misstatement. Why say Sling made changes to the app to make it more bandwidth friendly, if Sling didn't?
Well, a more mild explanation is that AT&T moves slow. They say they've been testing the app for months, and there's no doubt Sling's made improvements over that longer period of time, and AT&T just now got around to approving it.
On other hand, there's definitely an incentive for AT&T to phrase it the way they did. This way, it wasn't AT&T's fault for keeping it off their fragile network, it was Sling's fault for not optimizing it correctly until now. Hrmmmm.
Update: Just got off the phone with the Sling dudes, and it looks like the milder explanation I proposed is the case: "We've been working with AT&T pretty closely over the last 3-6 months, particularly over the last 1-2 months, and we're always improving." In fact, Sling says they now have a "closer relationship with AT&T than any other operators" because they've had to work with them.
Question though: Sling's been on other AT&T phones for a while, so why did iPhone get the shaft? Well, they say, "Things get amplified on iPhone because of the people using it and the kind of product it is," and "the reality is that it's the only platform we have to go through approval process," so they needed to "reach out to all the partners and work with all if them," versus the direct deployment model they've used on other platforms.
The upshot, they say, is that is wanting to "to treat all their phones equally." Naturally, I turned around and asked AT&T if that meant tethering was coming soon for the iPhone. "Nothing new to say." Oh well. [Ars]