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Your Android Phone May Never Get Netflix

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The Xbox 360 has it. Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) PS3 and Nintendo's (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) Wii have it. The iPhone has it and Windows 7 had it before it launched: Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) . Android users are patiently waiting to get Netflix support on their devices as well -- and some may wait forever. Netflix said that some Androids will get access and some won't. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , are you listening?

Since smartphones have turned into entertainment devices, a lack of Netflix support could be a major problem. Just in case you wondered why Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone is supported, why the iPad is supported, and why lots of TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and even the just released Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) is supported, but your Android phone/tablet is not, Netflix had an answer in a very apologetic blog post.

"We live to get Netflix on new devices, so the current lack of an Android-generic approach to quickly get to all Android devices is frustrating," Netflix's Greg Peters wrote. However, it appears that Android is the problem here and the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem is amplifying the issue.

"The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android," Peters wrote. "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."

However, in other cases, Netflix has been able to work with handset and technology vendors to protect content. As far as Android is concerned, there is apparently only slow progress. Because of the security problems and the fragmentation of the Android platform, Netflix said that some Android devices will get Netflix support and some will not. "This clearly is not the preferred solution, and we regret the confusion it might create for consumers," Peters wrote. "However, we believe that providing the service for some Android device owners is better than denying it to everyone."

"Select" Android handsets will support Netflix "early next year," according to Peters. He also noted that the company will work with the community on platform-wide solutions. But don't hold your breath.

This is a Google problem, and if we consider the impact Netflix can have on the success of devices, the company should take this remark from Netflix seriously. Besides Steve Jobs' surprising speech about the disadvantages of Android, especially the fragmentation of the platform, this is the most visible hurdle for Google's distribution model yet.

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Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Apple, Netflix, and Nintendo are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2010, at 8:19 PM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    Android is falling to bits.

    It will soon get worse.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2010, at 8:43 PM, LosFlores wrote:

    This is an ongoing issue with 'free' OSs. Unless/Until the OS is 'locked' in an appliance, content providers consider their content 'at risk', regardless of the reality of the situation, which is their content is 'open' to anyone with the right equipment, and the desire to take it for themselves.

    Consider: what stops someone from simply taking a high end camera, a high end HD projector, and a high end audio system, and making unlimited copies of a blue ray disc?

    Thats right, nothing. 99.999% of the public could not tell the difference between the original and the 'copy', and if they could, they wouldn't care.

    Perception: OMG! the keys to my car are in the ignition!!!

    Reality : everyone already has a copy of my keys.

    the real question is: Is Android supposed to be an appliance OS, or a general purpose OS?

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2010, at 9:26 PM, ETFsRule wrote:

    If I want to watch a movie, I'll go home and watch it on my nice comfy couch in front of my big-screen TV.

    Do people really have time to watch a full-length movie on their smartphone while they are out and about? The whole idea seems pretty unnecessary to me.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2010, at 9:40 PM, stockyoda wrote:

    Is it just me or is this completely a moot point with the 2GB monthly limit for iPhones and WinMo7 devices on the AT&T network? I mean no one can watch movies with those caps, right? The fact that Sprint and T-mobile don't have data caps will work increasingly in their favor imho.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2010, at 11:23 PM, uc22 wrote:

    I have been thinking this for a while. Android is actually falling into the same trap that the old Windows Mobile did. It is severely fragmented. I hate to say it but Apple and now Microsoft are taking the correct approach.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2010, at 12:17 AM, gslusher wrote:


    Netflix can stream movies via WiFi as well as over a cellphone network--any way that you can connect to the Internet. The Apple TV also streams Netflix.

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