Netflix users in Latin America and Canada will now be able to stream the platform’s content on Android smartphones and tablets, the company announced today as it introduced the new version of its Android app. The announcement was made a little less than one month after Netflix entered the Latin American market.
The new app, which you can download for free here, is compatible with Android 2.2, 2.3 and up. As part of Netflix’s effort to increase the number of devices users can access it from, the company added support for tablets running Android 3.x. Also known as Honeycomb, the version wasn’t supported in the previous version available to U.S. customers of the platform. As a result, the company now estimates that its service is available on 700 devices in the U.S.
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Android is only a first step in Netflix’s global multi-platform plan; a few days ago, the company’s Director of Marketing Nicolas Scafuro reminded that the engineering team is also working on offering the service on iPad, iPhone, iPod and XBox 360 in the region.
The move towards Android is also a strategic one. According to the company “Android-powered smartphones are rapidly gaining in popularity. Analyst firm Gartner Inc. expects Android will account for 49 percent of the smartphone market by 2012.” By being available on Android-powered tablets, rather than smartphones only, Netflix also positions itself on what it considers to be “an emerging, but rapidly growing category.”
This platform is especially relevant in Latin America, where Android benefited from the local context. Indeed, Apple’s iPhones and iPads are particularly expensive in Latin American countries, and unaffordable for many (see our previous story about smartphone usage in Brazil.) Although Brazilian authorities have been negotiating with Foxconn for the Taiwanese manufacturer to produce Apple devices locally, which mean that iPad pricing could decrease in the country, the current conditions have been favorable to Android.
Regardless of platforms, being available on tablets and smartphones is certainly a good idea for Netflix to gain traction in a region where broadband access is still limited and high-speed Internet often accessed via mobile connections.
What do you think about Netflix and its strategy? Let us know in the comments.