As promised, Netflix is finally available on Android devices — but not all of them.
Right now, the Netflix app for Android only supports five phones running Android 2.2 or higher: HTC’s Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G and G2; and Samsung’s Nexus S. According to Android Police, Samsung’s Tab 10.1 is also covered, but Motorola’s Xoom is not. What’s important to note is that Netflix support is tied to specific devices, not to any particular version of Android.
Netflix’s explanation for only supporting a handful of devices is kind of vague. Roma De, from Netflix’s product team, blames “the lack of standard streaming playback features” across all Android devices, thus requiring Netflix to “test each individual handset and launch only on those that can support playback.”
That’s not quite the same reason that Netflix gave back in November. At the time, product developer Greg Peters blamed “the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android.” He explained that Android has “security issues that have led to piracy concerns on the Android platform,” making it hard for Netflix to secure a common DRM system across all devices.
I don’t know why Netflix isn’t mentioning DRM now. Maybe it makes Hollywood studios look bad. Maybe it makes Google look bad. Whatever the case, the new Netflix app only reaches a sliver of available devices. Entire phone makers, including Motorola and LG, are left out.
On the bright side, Netflix says it will qualify more phones, and is working on the underlying technical challenges. Eventually, Netflix hopes to have an app for “a large majority of Android phones.” My guess is that very old versions of Android will be left out no matter what happens.