Online TV and video site Hulu offers desktop and mobile apps for watching videos without a web browser. But right now the company’s mobile apps are only available for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The folks at Engadget noticed a change to the list of supported devices this week though. There’s now a listing for “Select Android OS 2.2 phones.”
The Android app is listed as “coming soon,” and users can sign up to receive an email when the app goes live.
It’s not surprising that Hulu Plus for Android won’t be available for all phones. As developers at Netflix have noted, Android doesn’t include a system-wide DRM scheme to prevent people from saving video streams without the content owners’ permission. So it’s up to each individual phone manufacturer to put tools in place to enable copy-protection, and Hulu will likely have to work directly with phone makers and chip manufacturers to ensure its app works properly on each device.
In other words, there’s no technical reason Hulu, Netflix, or any other company couldn’t launch an app today that would stream video to all Android phones. There are already plenty of apps that do just that. But since Hulu and Netflix have close relationships with copyright holders which they kind of want to protect, they’re going to have to make sure that any mobile apps have digital rights management features.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulu is working with Qualcomm and Texas Instruments — just as Netflix is already doing.