I've posted on other boards as well about this subject and will post here as well. There was an article on Asymco
about the lack of any common DRM framework on Android. The article also brought up the prospect of the Android fragmentation not only being impossible to rein in but that it may actually be by design.
From Netflix blog:The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android. The same security issues that have led to piracy concerns on the Android platform have made it difficult for us to secure a common Digital Rights Management (DRM) system on these devices.
Setting aside the debate around the value of content protection and DRM, they are requirements we must fulfill in order to obtain content from major studios for our subscribers to enjoy. Although we dont have a common platform security mechanism and DRM, we are able to work with individual handset manufacturers to add content protection to their devices.
Unfortunately, this is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others wont.
Also from Asymco:Recently Google TV was blocked from all major US TV content and Google faced litigation from copyright holders in print publications and before that for YouTube infringements and before that from newspaper publishers for Google News unlicensed reuse of their content.
I agree that Google seems to have no intent to control the very ecosystem/platform they've unleashed. It's as though Google wants a chaotic free-for-all on the Internet space. What they don't want is a large sliver of that space being controlled by the likes of Apple, Microsoft or anyone else for that matter. Google doesn't want control. Google only wants the "free" space on which they can sell ads and the more "open" and "freer" it is, the more advantageous their position. Google's very goal is to break down the proprietary control of "competing" ecosystems and content owners.
Google's business model and its strategy to execute on that model is indeed a major threat to all traditional tech and media content companies that own IP and copyrighted material - from software companies to TV/movie studios, etc. Google is leveraging the very power of the Internet, which is owned by no one. It is actually a very well thought-out strategy of profiting from the chaos and fragmentation that they hope will overwhelm the efforts of "closed" or integrated ecosystem players like Apple, Microsoft, Nokia or anyone else - even the likes of major backend players like IBM, HP, Oracle, SAP, etc.
Meanwhile, Google's hardware partners (the Android phone/tablet/TV vendors) who don't have the means to take on the integrated players with their own software ecosystem/platform offerings are getting more and more deeply entangled in Google's sticky and ever expanding web as mere commodity providers from which they have no means to escape. They're essentially pawns who do the dirty work of undercutting Google's chief platform adversaries and then getting virtually nothing in return. Ditto for the software developers on the Google platform...
Google's aim is to commoditize the entire Internet infrastructure on which they can profit from through their search monopoly. Taking a page or two from Microsoft's playbook which Gates used so effectively during the 80's and the 90's to dominate the PC industry, Google is using its search monopoly position to render all other proprietary players irrelevant through their use of "open" source software and the marketing of "free" services as search, YouTube, Picasa, Gmail, Google Docs, Maps, etc. How can consumers argue against "free" stuff?
Another interesting article from the Harvard Business Review about why Google is losing this battle with this strategy:http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/11/did_...own_enemi.html
Aysmco's Horace Dediu summarized it well:
"Android is powerful, but as Google is finding out, power can be very dangerous without control."