Android Owners: Netflix Has Good News and Bad News
I’m a “good news first” kinda guy, so here it goes: The good news is, manufacturers were showing off Netflix on Android devices this past week at the Mobile World Congress and it looks as good as you would expect. What’s the bad news, then?
If you already own an Android device, Netflix likely won’t work on your device. As a matter of fact, it will only work on new devices and possibly not all of those. We’re placing a bet right now that “Netflix included!” is the tagline of the next successful generation of Android phones.
Netflix first arrived on smartphones last August, landing on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Next, the service hit the Windows 7 platform. Android, however, has been elusive. According to a post on the company’s blog last November, the big problem with Netflix on Android is Digital Rights Management (DRM).
Although we don’t have a common platform security mechanism and DRM, we are able to work with individual handset manufacturers to add content protection to their devices. Unfortunately, this is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won’t. This clearly is not the preferred solution, and we regret the confusion it might create for consumers. However, we believe that providing the service for some Android device owners is better than denying it to everyone.
This week, the first of those DRM-compliant devices began to surface. Laptop Magazine has posted demonstrations from Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, which show a beta version of Netflix streaming video on Android devices. Take a look at Laptop Magazine’s article if you want the real nitty-gritty on processors and security protocols, but the long and short of it is, we’re likely to begin seeing stickers boasting “Now with Netflix!” on new Android phones.
So where does this leave you? If you own an Android phone or tablet today, it sounds like you won’t be able to run the Netflix Watch Instantly app. And if you buy a brand new Android phone or tablet later this year, your device may or may not have the appropriate DRM libraries to run the application, even if you know what processor it has in it. Talk about fragmentation!
And just in case you’re one of those “pics or it didn’t happen” types, here are the videos: