As we told you last month, Netflix has been hiring developers for Android in an effort to bring their streaming video service to Google’s mobile platform. At the time we speculated that a Netflix app would hit the Android Marketplace in early 2011.
And, we were right… sort of.
Yesterday, Netflix confirmed that early 2011 is, indeed, their target Android release timeframe. But the company also regretfully reported that the release won’t be pretty.
VP of Product Development Greg Peters posted on the Netflix Blog that they’ll have a streaming app for “select Android devices … early next year.” Why not all Android devices, you ask? Shockingly, it’s because of the most unlikely of culprits… DRM.
As Peters writes, content owners – i.e. studios – require DRM (Digital Rights Management) to be in place on a target device in order for Netflix to be allowed to stream their videos to it. But no such “generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism” is currently available across all Android smartphones and tablets. Put another way: No satisfactory OS-level DRM, no streaming video.
So, Netflix will “work with the Android community, handset manufacturers, carriers, and other service providers to develop a standard, platform-wide solution” that would pacify the studios and allow Netflix to do what they do. We suppose this means that, at least at first, Netflix will only be available on a few Android devices, or perhaps devices from one or two device makers or carriers.
We know it’s difficult to believe that ironhanded DRM requirements could result in delays, incompatibilities, user headaches or service denial, but we fear – at least in this case – it’s true. And we were so looking forward to using our phones to pirate video (Attention MPAA: that was sarcasm).