I was reading an article of speculation on Apple’s new iCloud wouldn’t allow streaming of files to mobile devices from the iPhone service. The tone of the article reminded me that there seems to be a myth that streaming is somehow a better idea than sideloading files. They are two techniques that have different use cases and with different strengths and weaknesses.
Streaming is good for live content like radio and content owners like it as makes it harder to make a copy of content. Generally you can have a device with a lower hardware specification as storage isn’t required; however with Moore’s Law and the proliferation of storage media options makes this more of a mute point than it was a decade ago.
However, streaming depends on high quality ubiquitous networks. Streaming not only needs bandwidth but also a low level of packet loss and latency. At the present time, much of the UK struggles to use the streaming function on BBC iPlayer on the fixed broadband network. With mobile networks streaming content is much more patchy.
Sideloading is much more tolerant of network foibles, but lacks the instant gratification in content consumption that streaming can provide. It also make it easier to copy content, which is something that Big Media generally frowns upon. Streaming is akin renting a product rather than buying it; meaning that it implies a continuing revenue stream rather than a one-off sale which sideloading lends itself to.