Netflix Post annulled

Back to Android and Netflix.

I should really update with a new post because Netflix has released an app for Android while I was vacationing in The Great Smokey Mountains. The app only works on a few handsets: HTC Nexus One, Samsung Nexus S, HTC T-Mobile G2, the original HTC Evo 4G and the HTC Incredible. Still it defies my conclusion which I had based on a much earlier Netflix blog post with regards to hardware DRM support.

You can track which Android phones are supported on this page.

Why These Handsets?

Incredible and Evo

The HTC Incredible and the HTC Evo 4G were the flagship handsets of Verizon and Sprint respectively, both of those sold really well. (So did the Motorola Droid but I suspect hardware is limiting there).

Nexus S and Nexus One

Obviously the Nexus line should never have any software limitations, only hardware, and so if Netflix is able to release the app on HTC Evo 4G and HTC Incredible without relying on any hardware DRM it should definitely be released on the Nexus Google flagship handsets as well.

HTC T-Mobile G2

Then there is the HTC T-Mobile G2, which runs pretty much a stock Android phone (something I’ve touted as a big deal in the past) which probably made it easier for Netflix to release it on that phone (as they did for the Nexus line).

This is good news for those LG handsets that run stock-like Android (and have hardware roughly equivalent to the aforementioned phones, if not superior).

Be Open About It, Netflix

Netflix apparently needs to work on each handset individually (per that blog post in the beginning) so progress will be slow. Frustratingly they are not very open about what DRM scheme they are using or why they need to work with each handset on a case-by-case basis. It is also strange that the app was not released for the Motorola Xoom flagship tablet running Honeycomb. However with 3.1 announced at the recent Google I/O perhaps Netflix is writing for the updated version.

Google I/O 2011

Speaking of which, I hope to have a post soon about the very, very exciting ideas and plans presented at Google I/O this year.

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6 thoughts on “Netflix Post annulled

  1. I assumed that the reason for individual testing was so that they could monitor performance and make sure that the experience is good before they allow the app to be installed on that phone. Since each phone has slightly different hardware combos, they may want to test video performance, battery life, etc, so they don’t just release it and a bunch of people trying to watch movies on an older phone. And the last thing they want is people complaining that the Netflix Android app sucks just because their phone is underpowered for it. The DRM must be software-run, so it relies the processor and RAM quite a bit for decoding. Maybe performance isn’t the reason though, who knows. Hopefully they keep up with their testing and add devices quickly.

  2. Yes that makes sense, I figured that’s why it isn’t on the Motorola Droid. For what it’s worth the app runs very smooth on the Nexus One, and the Nexus One is the oldest of the 5 handsets.

    Still I would imagine then they could release it much more quickly on the handsets with proper horsepower released in 2011, since they’ve been able to install it on two handsets with HTC Sense (Incredible and Evo 4G).

  3. Nice!

    Thanks for posting this, and your twitter link. I’ve been waiting for this for a while, and I saw it here first. I installed it on my Nexus S this morning.

  4. Hmmm. The HTC Evo hasn’t been the Verizon flagship device since it was upstaged by the Motorola Droid X in July, 2010. Currently, the flagship ought to be the HTC Thunderbolt, Verizon’s first LTE phone.

    If the DRM is in hardware, the inclusion of some devices and not others is mighty confusing indeed. HTC uses Qualcomm chips exclusively for their smartphones.

    The Motorola Droid (the original, often nicknamed the OG Droid, as in Original Gangsta) has had support added as well, showing that its hardware is not a limitation. The Droid does not use a Qualcomm Soc (I always thought SoC was System on a Chip, not Silicon). It uses a TI OMAP 3430.

    I am surprised Netflix enabled the Droid and not the bigger, faster Droid X, but there are a LOT of Droids out there.

    I appreciated your insights on the DRM issues.

    • re: HTC Evo, you’re absolutely right in that it has lost its status as flagship device but it was, if I remember correctly, the first real Android phone Sprint pushed (and probably sold well). I think Netflix thought it would be to target high volume sale handsets on each carrier to start rolling the app out. The two phones you mentioned, the Droid X and HTC Thunderbolt are Verizon phones, so although they are now flagships for Verizon I don’t know if it would be fair to say they have supplanted HTC Evo. HTC Evo is a Sprint phone and of course has been replaced by newer phones (like the Evo Shift).

      Yes, I think my post regarding hardware DRM is incorrect, or at least that Netflix will not rely exclusively on hardware DRM. Although HTC does uses Qualcomm chips in their smartphones, including the Nexus One, these older phones obviously don’t have built-in hardware DRM. (Which is why my title is “Netflix Post annulled”). Perhaps they plan to use hardware DRM libraries on some phones (LG Revolution?) and not others, the phones with hardware DRM allow the software to utilize more of the chip for a faster, smoother experience as hardaware DRM is akin to hardware acceleration. Older phones (or new phones) that lack hardware DRM might be relying on software DRM decoding which may be eating into performance, albeit nominally. This is all purely speculation on my part.

      I didn’t realize the OG Droid (Motorola Droid) had support added, though I’m happy it did! That’s certainly good news. It also supports the idea that Netflix is aiming to bring the app to those phones that sold at large volumes. I have a friend with the OG Droid, I will try and find out what performance is like on his phone as he often complains of RAM issues.

      I think with time we’ll see Netflix roll out the app to more and more apps. I honeslty wish I knew why they were slowly rolling it out to each phone. I would think if you know it can perform on an older Droid handset, it’s virtually guaranteed to perform well on the newer ones. Still I guess Netflix wants to ensure proper operatability and a pleasant experience? As I said in the post, I wish they were more open about it.

      I appreciate your comments on this post, and hope I can stimulate more in the future!

  5. Pingback: Netflix on Android, a little bit more free « usamaisawake

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