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Why I won’t buy a Droid – yet

Thursday, Netflix announced Android phones would be getting access to their vast library of ancient movies nobody wants to watch on demand. WOOHOO went the world </sarcasm>. But then, as it always seems to go when we’re talking about something as cool as watching “Gone with the Wind” on your mobile… there was a catch. This particular catch wasn’t anything to do with how woefully pathetic Netflix is becoming at stocking worth while movies (Thanks MPAA for your shortsightedness and desire to die slowly like newspapers), but it was the fault of the number one thing that has kept me from moving to Android as my mobile platform of choice – fragmentation.

As of today, four HTC model phones (the Incredible, EVO 4G, G2, Nexus One) and the Samsung Nexus S are the only devices capable of running the app.

What the heck is that? FIVE devices? Doesn’t that account for like one half of one percent of the total Android devices out there?

Netflix product team member Roma De explains the holdup in a blog post. Essentially, the sheer number of different Android devices available is problematic, because Android lacks “standard streaming-playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain broad penetration across all available Android phones,” De wrote.

But developing streaming-playback support for the entire Android platform — host to over 300 different Android-powered devices — is a major ordeal. “In the absence of standardization,” wrote De, “we have to test each individual handset and launch only on those that can support playback.”

And that is why Android can’t gain traction with mobile/indie developers. Who has the time, patience and money to test on 300 different devices just to verify basic functionality – let alone complete validation of an application?

I really hope (as mentioned at Google I/O) they can work this out. I have friends who love their googlie-phones and I love the customizations you can make. However, until I know I can go to the android app store and not have to worry if an app will work on my phone, I’m staying away.

As for Netflix – I’m sorry I bashed you a bit back there. I know its not your fault that the movie industry still thinks going to Wal-Mart and buying a single overpriced DVD is what I should be doing  instead of being able to subscribe monthly and watch what I want to see on-demand. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I just saw the cover of a rock-on-80’s flick I haven’t seen in a decade…

Via Wired

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  • Josh Cook

    Obviously you’ve never read a thing about how the android market works, I’ve never downloaded an app that doesn’t work adn I download A LOT of apps.

  • Brandon

    @Josh – No I haven’t. Admittedly that comment wasn’t put exactly how I was thinking it. My issue is more like hearing a cool new app (like Netflix) has been launched – but only after getting excited about the launch do I find out I can’t download it because it won’t work with my phone.

  • Mark

    Your Android comments are spot on.

    Your Netflix comments? Well…everyone has their opinion. We turned off our cable because of Netflix. Between new shows regularly added shortly after they come out (like Stargate Universe) and shows I never got around to watching when they were first aired (Survivors, Sherlock, 30Rock, Glee, My Name is Earl, NGS documentaries, etc) we’ve yet to run out of good stuff to watch. Do we see shows the night they come out? No – but who cares? We watch without commercials – that alone makes it worth it. And for movies we can’t get, we just get disks sent.

    I get that you don’t like Netflix streaming, but to write the whole thing off is missing all the good stuff about it.

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  • Brandon

    @Mark – Don’t get me wrong – I love Netflix streaming. I love it enough that I complain about it not having the content I want. I still gladly pay for it every month because I find value in it. The best example I can give (since I don’t watch a lot of the TV shows) is movies. Its insane to me that I have to wait a month or more for a movie to come out on Netflix that shows up at Best Buy/Wal-Mart/Blockbuster/Hollywood Video the day of release. The studios do this because they are afraid people won’t buy the discs. Well guess what? I wasn’t going to buy 90% of them anyway since I’d only watch them once. The ones I fall in love with – I buy after I watch it.

    Once a movie does hit Netflix – I’ve got a less than 50% chance of it being released as a streaming download. For example here’s a quick comparison as of today:

    Streaming New Releases – Trinity and Beyond (1995), Kick-Ass (2010), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010), Curious George 2 (2009), BASEketball. (1998)

    DVD New Releases – No Strings Attached (2011), The King’s Speech (2010), Black Swan (2010), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt1 (2010), The Tourist (2010).

    There’s not a single one of those streaming releases I would consider anything above b-grade crap. The DVD releases are significantly better but look at the DVD release dates for those and you’ll find they have been out for 1-2 months already. My DVD queue is already 30 deep because there’s a 3 day turnaround to get a new disc (mail-receive-mail) and what tends to happen is a disc arrives and I’m not in the mood for that type of movie so it sits for a couple days.

    Netflix could be a killer service – but until the studios realize that old media (like the newspapers) is dying a slow painful death, it won’t reach its potential. I don’t blame Netflix for this so much as the people who run the studios and can’t figure out how to make money on the new distribution channels that we the consumers want. Just like the music industry can’t figure out that I want to download MP3s from Amazon – I don’t want to buy a CD from Target because I don’t have a way to play it on my phone/ipad/ipod.

  • j__h

    I think the current press release was dumbed down a little… here is an earlier blog statement from Netflix outlining why it is harder:

    “The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android.”
    http://goo.gl/Y8x2o

    While this is still fragmentation it is not quite the same as what is now said. Android has other apps which stream from the web just fine on a broad range of phones. For example playon, jetflix.

    Netflix is pretty much the only app with this issue and alomst every other app works on all phones with out these issues due to DRM.

    Personally, for a consumer to have issue with Android over fragmentation is funny to me as the Iphone is much more limited as you are kept from having many functions and apps by Apple. It is mainly something for developers to worry about.

    This examples is due to the OS not being able to handle the DRM not that it cannot support video streaming and is not an issue with almost any other app.

  • Brandon

    @J_H – No argument from me about the issues with Apple and their walled garden. That’s why I stick with jailbreaking and adding the functionality that Apple won’t allow – like bitesms, lockinfo and sbsettings.