Netflix for Android Demoed on Qualcomm, TI Chips with DRM Support

When it comes to Netflix’s watch instantly service, Android users get no love because Google’s OS doesn’t natively support the kind of DRM protections the streaming service requires. However, it looks like that’s about to change as today we saw a beta version of Netflix for Android running on Android devices with both Qualcomm Snapdragon and TI OMAP 4 chips inside.

According to both Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, their chips are available with a form of hardware DRM that Netflix demands to protect its streams from piracy. Unfortunately, that’s cold comfort to people who already own Android devices and would like to use Watch Instantly on them. Netflix’s Greg Peters addressed this problem a few months ago on the company’s blog saying that “we believe that providing the service for some Android device owners is better than denying it to everyone.”

According to Qualcomm’s William Frantz, who demoed Netflix for us at the Qualcomm both here at Mobile World Congress, the currently-shipping Qualcomm Snapdrag MSM8255 and 8650 series support the proper security protocols, but the DRM libraries are optional. “Just because you have a Snapdragon chip the OEM may or may not have included the DRM libraries that would be required to run the Netflix application,” he told us.

Frantz didn’t list which devices do and don’t have the DRM libraries, though the unreleased LG Revolution which Qualcomm is using to demo Netflix clearly has them installed. It doesn’t seem like any currently-shipping Snapdragon device will support Netflix, though we hope to be proven wrong on that assumption.

Meanwhile, over at the Texas Instruments booth, TI is showing how its OMAP 4 processor also supports Netflix DRM, but only on a demo tablet, not an actual product. It remains unclear to us whether currently-announced products with TI’s OMAP 4 platform, such as the LG Optimus 3D, will have the appropriate DRM protections installed. However, older OMAP handsets certainly aren’t covered.

So where does this leave you? If you own an Android phone or tablet today, it sounds like you won’t be able to run the Netflix Watch Instantly app. And if you buy a brand new Android phone or tablet later this year, your device may or may not have the appropriate DRM libraries to run the application, even if you know what processor it has in it. Talk about fragmentation!

Check out the videos below to see Netflix running first on a Qualcomm Snapdragon and second on a TI OMAP 4 processor.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Matt Says:

    So, it’ll be what, a week before someone has ripped the libraries off of a new phone and made them available on xda or some site for all with a competent processor?

  2. Porter Says:

    Older OMAP chipsets certainly ARE covered. I have the Netflix app running perfectly on my original Motorola Droid with the TI OMAP3430 (600mhz). I’m running CyanogenMod 7 (Gingerbread 2.3.4), and it streams Netflix as well as my Roku does, which really surprised me. No difficulty at all loading the app, either, I just sideloaded it using the .apk.

  3. Jermaine Says:

    Epic 4g from Sprint works just fine with the Netflix Streaming app… so much for older devices not being supported!!!

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