Back in November we highlighted how fragmentation effectively precluded Netflix from releasing a Netflix app for Android. All the while, iOS users had been enjoying mobile Netflix for months.
If you recall, Netflix had been working on an Android app for some time but ran into roadblocks with respect to DRM. Netflix product developer Greg Petered explains that because Android lacks a universal DRM solution, they therefore have to work with handset manufacturers individually in order to ensure that the installed DRM protocol is in compliance with Hollywood studios.
“The same security issues that have led to piracy concerns on the Android platform have made it difficult for us to secure a common Digital Rights Management (DRM) system on these devices,” Peters said.
So Netflix was faced with a choice. Either develop an app for some Android handsets or not at all.
They naturally chose to go with the former and this past Thursday the company announced the arrival of a free Netflix app for a select few Android devices.
And when we say select few, we’re talking 5 devices.
The HTC Incredible, EVO 4G, G2, Nexus One and the Samsung Nexus S are the only devices compatible with the app.
If you’re running any other kind of Android device, tablets included, you’re out of luck. So that’s 5 compatible Android devices out of a pool of around 300. We’re not liking those odds.
Interestingly, the delayed release of Netflix for Android was not only rooted in DRM concerns, but also due to disparate functionality across devices. Roma De of Netflix explained that Android lacks a “standard streaming-playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain broad penetration across all available Android phones.”
“In the absence of standardization,” De explained, “we have to test each individual handset and launch only on those that can support playback.”
Meanwhile, Google is making its own movies in the movie rental space, announcing at this week’s I/O conference the arrival of movie rentals from the Android Market.