As Android users we all celebrated the recent movements from the ABC in introducing video streaming into their ABC app for Android, and then a further update which saw them announce an Android App was in the works and would hopefully be released before the end of the year. But it appears that Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei are not satisfied with this and in a press release this afternoon called on the ABC to drop their ‘Android bias and get the iView app on Android smartphones ASAP’.
Jeremy Mitchell, Corporate Affairs Director for Huawei said in the statement
Like many Australian Android users, I have been hearing ‘the Android iView app is coming’ for far too long. Despite the claims of the ABC, there has been no real evidence that there is any desire to fill this blatant gap. It feels like Godot will arrive before the iView app gets here on Android.
Describing the ABCs iview service as ‘unobtainable for Australian Android users’, Mr Mitchell questioned the ABCs commitment to diversified mobile access to iview, asking
Is the ABC the Apple Broadcast Corporation or the Anti-droid Broadcast Corporation? Looking at the evidence, they both fit so well
Mr Mitchell refers to a $30 million grant given to the ABC in 2013 to strengthen its online service delivery by asking accusing the broadcaster of ‘dragging its heels in bringing the popular iView service to Android smartphones and tablets’ stating that iOS users have had access to it since 2010.
Mr Mitchell refers to a statement from the ABC which says that the demand for their Android News App has grown by over 360% over the past year. This predominant mobile OS in Australia switched to Android last december after a long reign by iOS. Which leads Mr Mitchell to state
It’s disappointing that the public broadcaster has turned its back on the predominant operating system which is free, open, and not aligned to one particular company. Rather, the ABC has continued to favour one company’s product and platform. This is a public policy issue – imagine if the ABC only broadcast their TV programming to one brand of television – it’s outrageous!
The ABC has indeed been working on an Android App for sometime, only recently announcing as mentioned above that it should be coming by the end of the year. The ABCs Managing Director Mark Scott recently acknowledged through his twitter feed that a majority of their traffic is from mobile and has spoken of the upcoming Android App, at least twice in the last month.
In previous statements – which actually go back to 2010 – the ABC has stated that the main issue behind the Android platform not having access to iView has been a lack of Flash support on Android and that they are working on a new system which will allow them to deliver the content while meeting the requirements of their content rights holders.
The main issue at stake here appears to be that the video stream from iview must maintain DRM equivalant to that required by the copyright owners. It’s a sad fact that piracy is an issue but one that must be addressed.
They have also referred to the many versions of Android that are currently in the marketplace as well as the amount of different screensizes available, with the ABC stating :
There is also the considerable challenge faced by all developers for Android, and that is the fragmentation of the Android platform in terms of device (variations in components, screen sizes and resolutions) and operating system. The situation is improving but regrettably carriers still sell Android devices running early versions of their OS. Further, formatting content for all of the screen sizes and resolutions is prohibitive. With limited resources, these considerations make it challenging to develop, test and support these devices.
There is certainly a need for an official iview app from the ABC; but it does seem that the ABC is working to get it out there, acknowledging it at a fairly high level and promising that it’s coming, and every indicator we’ve seen says that they truly are hard at work trying to release an official client.
Huawei, as a manufacturer relies on content distributors such as the ABC and others to support the platform that they release devices for. Another OEM who hasn’t been as vocal, Samsung, has worked closely with companies such as Channel 7 and Foxtel to get Android Apps onto their devices, in the short term as an exclusive app, but in the longer term for the benefit of all Android devices, perhaps this is something that Huawei should investigate.
What are your thoughts? Should Huawei perhaps look at working with content providers or is their rant the best way to get the iview app out?