Netflix is already available on Windows Phone 7, yet the app is missing from Android phones. In a blog post Friday, Greg Peters, VP of product development, said that Netflix will be coming to select Android phones in early 2011, but explained why the company can’t release its movie streaming app on all Android devices. The problem comes down to DRM.
“We are eager to launch on these devices and are disappointed that we haven’t been able to do so already,” said Peters in the very frank post. “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.”
Unlike Apple’s locked down iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, there is no DRM standard on Android devices, forcing Netflix to work with individual handset manufacturers and develop for each phone series separately–a laborious, time consuming process.
“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,” said Peters. “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.”
While we generally support the open nature of Android, it is a shame that Netflix is too scared to launch on the platform. Even when this is resolved and the app comes to select Android devices, the app likely won’t be available on new handsets quickly, and who knows how long for Android-powered tablets. It would behoove Google to take the reigns and provide a platform-wide solution for those looking to control their content. Television networks have had similar issues with Google TV. The search giant has not commented on the issue.