Netflix Coming To "Select" Android Handsets Next Year

It's a little hard to believe, but there's still no Netflix support for Android. Netflix streaming has been supported via an iPhone app for months now, and Windows Phone 7 support was granted just as soon as the OS hit the market. But Android has been around for years, and still no Netflix app. So, what gives? Finally, Netflix is shedding some light on that very question.

 Greg Peters, from Netflix product development, recently posted a blog concerning the lack of Netflix support on Android. He seems quite upset that they haven't been able to figure out a solution just yet, and while he wants Netflix on Android ASAP, there's one major problem: DRM. The same loopholes that have allowed piracy to run rampant in the Android Market are keeping content partners from signing off on a Netflix Android app. According to Peters: "The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android. 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. Setting aside the debate around the value of content protection and DRM, they are requirements we must fulfill in order to obtain content from major studios for our subscribers to enjoy. 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."

That last line is most important. What you're assuming is indeed the case. Moving forward, Netflix will be working with specific handset makers to product a Netflix app for specific phones. That means that whenever a Netflix app does come out for Android, it won't support all Android phones. Peters realizes that this will lead to a "fragmented" experience, but they feel that giving Netflix to some on Android is better than denying all Android users the ability to stream.

We aren't so sure we agree. Why not fight the content partners until all Android users are given clearance? It sounds to us that the content partners wouldn't hesitate to deny access to all Android users, but Netflix is doing the best they can with the situation they have been given. It's not ideal, but at least the first Android Netflix app is expected "early next year." No word on what phone(s) will support it right away, but hopefully it's a big bunch.