Netflix Apologizes for Android Fragmentation

Greg Peters, from the Netflix development team, has apologized, in the Netflix blog, to his customers for the delay in launching a Netflix app for Android, citing technology fragmentation.

In his explanation, Mr. Peters said, in part,

The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android. 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. Setting aside the debate around the value of content protection and DRM, they are requirements we must fulfill in order to obtain content from major studios for our subscribers to enjoy. Although we don’t have a common platform security mechanism and DRM, we are able to work with individual handset manufacturers to add content protection to their devices. Unfortunately, this is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won’t.”

There has been a healthy discussion, both pro and con, whether there is significant fragmentation that is possibly detrimental in the Android market. At Apple’s earnings report on October 18, Apple CEO Steve Jobs cited tis kind of fragmentation as a potential problem and why Apple’s iOS has an advantage. Now, in what may be the first public use of the word ‘fragmentation’ by a major Android developer, one of those problems has come to light.

Mr. Peters predicted that selected Android devices would have the Netflix app “early next year.”