Was the Netflix launch for Android a bust?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| May 13, 2011

Application jealousy is something that everyone suffers from at some point or another. No matter which platform you find yourself on, there’s probably one application (or more) that your friends have on another platform, but you don’t. Or, perhaps one application has better functionality than the one you have. Whatever the case, one application in particular has been missing from Android for quite some time now, considering how long it’s been available on another. Netflix has been one app that many have been clamoring for, and after what seems like an excruciating wait, the movie and television show streaming app is finally here. But, there’s a bump in the road right out of the gate.

Netflix has already been available for Apple’s iOS platform for a little while now. And right after the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, it was available there, too. But, despite the massive popularity of Android, the application was mysteriously absent from the mobile OS. Rumors about the app landing on the operating system had been coming for quite some time; all suggesting it was “coming soon.” Not soon enough for some people, but luckily the wait is finally over. That is, if you’ve got yourself a device that supports the app.

As it turns out, Netflix launched the application but it’s not supported by Android as a whole. Instead, it’s only compatible with a few devices right from the start. Five, to be exact: HTC Nexus One, HTC Droid Incredible, T-Mobile G2, the Nexus S, and the HTC EVO 4G. Technically it’s six, if you consider the Nexus S 4G to be a different device (not many would, I suspect). In any event, if you don’t have one of these handsets then you won’t be streaming any movies right now. Not from Netflix, anyway.

The company says that a few obstacles are keeping them from getting the app running on other devices, but that they’ll be overcome in the coming months. However, instead of saying that the app will work on all Android devices (on a compatible version of the OS), Netflix just says that the app will work “on a large majority of Android phones.” This probably means that the major handsets, like the HTC Sensation 4G and any number of high-end Android-based devices coming down the pipe, will get Android, but that there will probably be many devices out there that won’t catch the Netflix bus.

I’ve got to ask why tablets aren’t supported right now. How is it that a media device like a tablet, such as Motorola’s XOOM or any one of the other Android tablets out there, isn’t supported? It would seem to me that getting Netflix on those tablets would be a high priority, considering their market presence and larger screens. Even just slipping one tablet device in there would go a long way, in my opinion.

The fact that Netflix is available on Android now, after such a long wait, probably means that many people wouldn’t consider the launch a bust. However, the fact that so many devices aren’t supported, and that Netflix is saying it could still be a few more months before new devices are brought into the fold, I don’t think it would be too far off to say that it came with a whimper, rather than a bang. But what do you think of Netflix’s launch? Better late than never? Or should Netflix have waited to make sure more devices were supported before bringing it to the public? Let me know in the comments below.