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Netflix: Android DRM too fragmented to reach all devices

updated 12:40 pm EST, Sat November 13, 2010

Netflix says Android fragmentation hurting support

Netflix has had problems bringing its service to Android because of the inherent fragmentation of the platform, content development staffer Greg Peters said in an update late Friday. Both iPhone and Windows Phone 7 versions were finished quickly, but Android doesn't have the "generic and complete" copy protection needed to protect against stream ripping and keep deals with studios that wouldn't allow it otherwise. Without it, Netflix has to develop support for devices one at a time and has had to delay its Android launch well past other platforms.

"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," Peters wrote. "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."

The Android port is still coming but will only reach "select" devices in early 2011. Netflix has been working on trying to get a more universal copy protection implementation but didn't have estimates for if or when this might be possible.

Google has denied fragmentation is an issue with Android, but the variety of active OS versions has been enough of an issue that it was used as a target by Steve Jobs when justifying the closed nature of the iPhone platform. Both Apple and now Microsoft can ensure that almost all devices using an OS have the latest version and can guarantee a common experience. Android's situation is gradually improving, but only 36 percent of devices are running the latest version since both phone makers and carriers are allowed to heavily customize the OS to their liking. The strategy has often led to devices getting upgrades months after the Google release or none at all.

The imminent Android 2.3 launch should ameliorate some of the fragmentation concerns, but most of what Google has done so far has been to break out core apps so that they can be updated independently of the OS underneath. Its approach wouldn't address Netflix's problem as the protection is woven into Android proper.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Shea

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Nov 2010


    comment title

    I just don't understand it. So Android is fragmented big deal. That has more to do with older phones still trying to hang with 1Ghz+ processing phones with bigger screens and hardware acceleration.

    Put another way; there's no REASON Netflix should feel like it needs to support all devices but it does. Why you ask? In the name of profit. They want to have their cake and eat it to, and they know there are a lot of Android users period.

    But what about those of us who continue to pay for their service and get limited utility out of it? I can't watch on my phone but I have a Droid X - a top tier device and Verizon's current most popular phone according to Consumer Reports.

    I may just dump my netflix subscription all together.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Android is like a mutating virus. Kill it!

    FRAG-MEN-TAY-SHUN. People keep saying that Android isn't fragmented. As far as I'm concerned if the version of Android OS that Google releases can't go on all Android handsets at the same time, then something is definitely wrong. The whole idea of an open OS is that everyone is allowed to do their own thing. If the smartphone vendors and carriers keep modifying the interface then how does Google allow for all those changes in their releases without possibly breaking things. It may not be considered as ruining the platform, but some form of fragmentation exists just the same.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. DerekMorr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    misleading headling

    The issue isn't "fragmentation," but the lack of DRM in the Android OS. Since Google apparently isn't willing to add it, Netflix has to work with OEMs and VARs to add it. This is analogous to any software vendor working out deals with OEMS to have software loaded onto machines. For example, imagine that Apple negotiated to have the trial version of FileMaker Pro loaded onto Dell and HP machines. Would the fact that Gateway and Sony machines don't have it preloaded encourage folks to scream "fragmentation!" ? I think not. Stop the FUD, macnn.

  1. patrix

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Oh yeah, just available in the USA (and maybe some parts of Canada?). Not an issue for most of the world, or most Android devices...

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Is that the new Buzzword these days??


  1. aardman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What fragmentation? Says e. schmidt.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. peter02l

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Freedom Rules!

    "but Android doesn't have the "generic and complete" copy protection needed to protect against stream ripping and keep deals with studios that wouldn't allow it otherwise"

    Duh! That's because it's open. Which means no restrictions to imagining things you can do with the phone. I want my keyboard to be blue with 50 white buttons in the shape of stars. And I want the case to be striped red and white. And I want an NRA badge inside the cover.

    That would be a heck of a phone. I will get unlimited voice so I can call everywhere for free.

    And I hope the reason Steve Balmer is cashing out because he needs the money to run for President in two years. Wouldn't it be nice if he passed a law to give people the freedom to only buy Windows PCs? He will give everyone a tax cut and make immigrants both here and outside the US to pay all taxes.

    Then we can get rid of all the parties except for the Tea party. And just so we can protect our democracy we could add a Beer party, and an independent Snack party.

    And if China refuses to play ball, we should take over all Chinatowns here in the U.S. and put our flag there and annex them towns to U.S. territory, and not let them copy our fast food ideas. Anyone who is not a true-blooded American should go to China or Europe, or other places like that. We fought a civil war and won. It makes no sense that South America is not part of U.S. - they are not allowed to make up names of countries and pretend the land belongs to them and speak different languages.

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