Androiders have long been left out when it comes to watching movies on-the-go, but no more-- Twentieth Century Fox is bringing movie downloads to Google's Android smartphone and tablet platform later this year, setting up the fast-growing operating system as a media platform to rival Apple's digital dominance.
Fox's move into Android comes six months after Google's platform overtook Nokia's Symbian as the world's biggest-selling smartphone operating system. Its worldwide smartphone market share is expected to climb to 49% by 2012, according to analyst group Gartner, while also capturing some 24% of the tablet market, which is today dominated by Apple's iPad.
"Given its strong growth as a mobile operating system, the support for Android is an important move for us because it further enhances Blu-ray discs as the best way to get your movies to all your screens," said Vincent Marcais, senior vice-president for marketing at Twentieth Century Fox International Home Entertainment.
Unlike Apple's iPhone, which comes tied to its iTunes music and video store, Android has not been seen as a media platform because it has lacked some playback and copy-protection technologies which movie studios require. In December, Google went some way towards addressing studios' concerns by acquiring Widevine, a rights-management and streaming technology which powers services such as Netflix.
The Financial Times reports that the first of these offerings will be X-Men: First Class. Those who purchase the Blu-ray package will be offered a digital copy of the movie which can be downloaded on the computer, and then side-loaded to any Android device. Fox already has this system in place with iOS and Windows devices, but given Android's ridiculous growth, the movie maker likely didn't want to leave out such a booming platform.
Fox is also developing new smartphone and tablet apps for Android and Apple, designed to be used in conjunction with a film being watched on the TV, for example allowing social networking, companion materials such as quizzes and actors' biographies or other interactive features.
The Android download service - which Fox says is the first of its kind - will first be made available in the US, UK, France and Germany.