Ever since Netflix (s NFLX) went mobile with an iPad app (s AAPL) last year, jealous Android (s GOOG) users have patiently awaited availability of the online streaming service on their own devices. Well, the wait is finally over — at least for some users.
The Netflix app just arrived on the Android market, according to a blog post by Netflix Product Manager Roma De. But for now, at least, the app will only be available on select Android phones. Those include the HTC Incredible with Android 2.2, HTC Nexus One with Android 2.2 and 2.3, the HTC Evo 4G with Android 2.2, the HTC G2 with Android 2.2 and the Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3.
So why not every Android device? De explains:
“The Android platform is gaining rapid adoption in the mobile world and presents a great opportunity to reach more of our members. Because the platform has evolved so rapidly, there are some significant challenges associated with developing a streaming video application for this ecosystem. One of these challenges is the lack of standard streaming playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain broad penetration across all available Android phones. In the absence of standardization, we have to test each individual handset and launch only on those that can support playback. We are aggressively qualifying phones and look forward to expanding the list of phones on which the Netflix app will be supported. We anticipate that many of these technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months and that we will be able to provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.”
Android fragmentation has been a big issue for developers trying to reach the Android platform, specifically for video applications that need to ensure high-quality playback and content protection. Netflix has been working on developing for Android since at least last fall, but without standardized DRM, it has had to work with individual handset manufacturers to ensure streams are secure.
That said, Netflix hopes to boost the number of supported Android devices soon. De writes: “We expect to quickly add to the number of phones that can download from Android Market as we work with ecosystem partners to expand playback support.”