One of the ongoing concerns that app builders and end users have with Android is fragmentation. While we seem to be moving towards a unified version of Android itself the actual hardware that Android runs on is quite diverse. For services that provide copyrighted content, such as Netflix or Hulu, that's a real problem. In both cases, when these services hit Android it was only on a limited number of devices that had been certified by the service provider.
This problem isn't going away any time soon by the looks of things. Yesterday we learned that if you want to watch 1080P Netflix on an Android device, you're going to need a Texas Instruments OMAP 4 chip inside (at least for now). Here's the techno-babble, direct from PR Newswire:
Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) today became the first partner to achieve the Netflix Silicon Reference Implementation (SRI) certification for the Netflix HD application on Android. TI's OMAP™ 4 platform, complete with M-Shield™ security technology and TI's quad-radio WiLink™ 7.0 connectivity combo solution, met the Netflix requirements for mobile content streaming, including the ability to run up to full high-definition (HD) 1080p video within strict security measures.
What's that mean in English? It means that for now at least, all those Tegra 2 tablets (Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Asus Transformer, Acer Iconia A500 and the new Toshiba Thrive) are out of luck when it comes to HD Netflix. So which Android tablets do run on the TI OMAP 4? As far as I can determine, there aren't any, yet. The 9th generation Archos tablets will, but they aren't due on the market until September. For more insight into this situation I'll refer you to Andrew Kameka at Andronica who eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff. I just hope Netflix certifies these Tegra 2 tablets sooner rather than later. Netflix is something of a killer app on the iPad and it should be available on all Android tablets as well. Maybe Google needs to help this process along somehow. As long as we're talking Netflix, the company announced that it will be expanding its streaming service to 43 more countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America later this year. Customers will be able to choose to get the service in English, Spanish or Portuguese. Netflix's world domination can't be too far off.