Netflix is coming to Android, but it'll be a slow process

Posted by Mark Raby

Android owners have had a good reason to be jealous of iPhone and iPad users because the latter are able to stream Netflix movies on their devices. But due to security concerns, bringing the same app to Android is proving to be a tough problem.

In a blog post on Friday, Netflix confirmed it is working on an Android app that would allow users to stream content from their instant queue directly from their handset. However, the company also expressed concerns over security.

"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," wrote Netflix's Greg Peters.

Netflix isn't just giving up, though. It continues to work on creating a DRM platform for Android, but the process has been tougher than it expected. The company is blaming it on Android's market fragmentation, which many Android users themselves have complained about.

Although the latest version of Android is version 2.2, only about one-fourth of people with an Android phone have that version installed. Previously-released installments of the operating system still run rampant among the user base. So what's the solution?

"Some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won't," confirmed Peters. Which handsets will be chosen is unknown at this time, but a safe bet would be to say any Android phones released in the first year will probably not have access to the Netflix app. It is, however, good news to owners of a Droid, Evo 4G, or Galaxy S phone, since they likely will meet Netflix's standards.

The issue highlights why Google needs to set a more global standard for Android, and why it really needed to do so from the start. It plans to do this when Android 3.0 comes out - that will be treated as a brand new platform, and any phone given Android 3.0 access will adhere to a stricter set of guidelines, hopefully making the future of the OS a bit more streamlined.