updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu June 23, 2011
Hulu Plus hits Android with fragmentation
Android caught up significantly on Thursday with the addition of Hulu Plus (free, Market). Coming a year after the iOS version, it lets users stream the full Hulu TV and movie catalog over both cellular and Wi-Fi. The service costs the same $8 per month.
The launch nonetheless drew a close parallel to the Netflix release on Android by arriving on just six devices. Initial support is limited to just the Nexus One and Nexus S, HTC's Inspire 4G, as well as the the Motorola Atrix, Droid 2, and Droid X. More devices are coming later in the year, Hulu said.
The limitation stems primarily from the splintered nature of copy protection on Android. Where Apple's narrow device mix guarantees virtually every model can get a copy-protected media app, Android protection on current phones has to be tailored to individual processor families and sometimes specific models. Netflix said it couldn't reach every device because of the split.
Google has tackled the problem by introducing modular DRM in Android 3 and should bring it to phones this fall with Ice Cream Sandwich. Hulu's current app doesn't support any Android tablets, however, and still gives iOS in tablet support.
Viewers have also noted that the Android version also doesn't appear to work at all on rooted Android devices, including those using CyanogenMod. The limit is one that also touches Netflix and reflects worries from studios that rooted devices might allow stream ripping.