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Android This Week: Hulu Plus lands; falling market share; TV tech on phones

A handful of Android (s goog) devices this week became the first to gain access to Hulu Plus, a subscription-based service for online movies and television programs. The software is free, but most content on Hulu Plus is only accessible by paying a $7.99 monthly fee. Similar to Netflix (s nflx), Hulu Plus is only available for a small subset of Android phones during the initial rollout. This is likely because it is testing each individual Android phone model to ensure that it meets the appropriate digital rights management (DRM) requirements.

For now, Hulu Plus is only supported on the Nexus One, Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G and three Motorola(s mmi) phones: the Droid 2, Droid X and Atrix 4G. In a blog post announcing the new software, the folks at Hulu Plus said it “expects to add to the number of Android smartphones and will be making additional device announcements throughout the year.”

I have both a Nexus One and a trial subscription to Hulu Plus, so I gave the software a try earlier this week. I found it to work quite well, even over a 3G connection. The menus are intuitive, and the video quality is on par with other high-quality video streaming services.

In other Android news related to video quality, Sony Ericsson (s sny) (s eric) announced two new smartphones that borrow from Sony’s high-definition television technology. The Xperia active and Xperia ray both use the Bravia Mobile Engine to enhance video playback on their “Reality Displays,” bringing improved contrast, color management and noise reduction. Although I haven’t seen either of these phones yet — they aren’t due to arrive until the third quarter of 2011 — the video demonstration shows promise:

Aside from the display technology, Sony Ericsson is trying to differentiate the Active by ruggedizing it for exercise. The capacitive touchscreen works even with water or sweat on the screen and can survive for 30 minutes in up to one meter of water. Various sports-tracking software applications are also preinstalled.

These models may help Sony Ericsson’s market share, but Android’s as a whole is showing some slowness, at least in the U.S. Earlier this week, Charlie Wolf, an analyst from Needham & Co., suggested that Android’s market share in the U.S. fell to 49.5 percent, from 52.4 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

This marks the first decline for Android in any region of the world and is largely due to the Verizon (s vz) iPhone(s aapl), thinks Wolf. If true, it’s likely that Android’s market share will continue to be challenged this year, as a new iPhone is expected for both Verizon and AT&T (s t) in September. In addition to new hardware, the iPhone’s software looks good too, even from an Android owner’s point of view.

8 Responses to “Android This Week: Hulu Plus lands; falling market share; TV tech on phones”

  1. It’s always hard to really analyze what’s going on from a tech blog perspective, but I’ve always found my family using “whatever works”…. and by that I mean whatever is cheapest.

    The largest segment of the market will always be captured by what is the most affordable, regardless of that product’s value. The sad truth.

    • James Pakele

      It’s easy to watch a movie on a phone, I do it all the time, watch more stuff on my phone than ANY of the televisions in my house. Of course the larger screens on Android phones make it a little easier to watch this was still true when I had my iPhone 4 as well.

  2. All in I think that GigaOM is giving bit too much thought into a single analysis. I would just rather wait for the next global market-share analysis (usually available monthly).

    That said, and avoiding a “fan” position here towards one OS or the other, I think that in the long run the mobile business will benefit from 2 strong contenders, rather than see Android take off alone.
    With two strong leaders, taking together 80% of the market – people will be able to aim easily to the right platforms as well as build the proper consumer services eco-systems to bridge between them.
    With Android running too far ahead, and iOS taking a weak 2nd position (with others right on its tail), we will still see a lot of confusion. And I think that the market needs some kind of stability eventually – reaching some maturity.

  3. Justa Notherguy

    Regarding the Needham report about Android’s “lost market share”, I think everyone would do well to read the included disclaimers. For instance, there’s this one…

    “The research analyst and/or research associate (or household member) has a financial interest in the securities of the covered company (i.e., a long position consisting of common stock).”

    ie: Mr. Wolfe owns shares of Apple stock. Of course, this is not to suggest his analysis could be in any way colored (much less tainted0 thereby. Good heavens, no – perish the thought.

    That said, the author’s ties with Apple might be even closer than mere capital gains. Based on the following disclaimer, I’d say the the good people of Cupertino have helped to pad Mr. Wolf’s retirement account via more direct means, too.:

    “The research analyst and research associate have received compensation based upon various factors, including quality of research, investor client feedback, and the Firm’s overall revenues, which includes investment banking revenues.”

    Just saying, the whole thing sounds kinda sketchy to me. When in doubt (which, after reading the fine print, I usually am), it’s best to be skeptical when reading unexpectedly contrarian reports pushed out by clearly interested parties.