BlackBerry’s Android access no longer includes Netflix

We’re not saying, necessarily, that there is a relationship between accusations of discrimination BlackBerry CEO John Chen levelled against Netflix early in the new year and the fact that a Netflix app isn’t being made available to BlackBerry users through a new arrangement with Amazon, but the facts paint a curious picture.

On Thursday, BlackBerry announced a new software update would allow its smartphones that run the BlackBerry 10 operating system access to a select number of Android apps on the Amazon Appstore. Candy Crush Saga, Pinterest, Minecraft, Kindle and Cut the Rope 2 were among the apps mentioned in a news release and blog post heralding this development.

There was no talk of Netflix, which was highlighted in June when the future arrangement with Amazon’s Appstore was first brought up (subscribers only) by BlackBerry.

When asked about the matter this week, BlackBerry spokeswoman Kiyomi Rutledge said: “At the moment, Netflix is not available in the Amazon Appstore for BlackBerry 10.”

We can’t say for sure why this plan changed over the course of a few months. But it’s worth noting the letter Chen sent to U.S. members of Congress in January in which he noted that while Netflix has been a strong proponent of net neutrality, it has “discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other application providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users.”

Chen added that that “neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer” and that all users “must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system.”

It’s not clear whether Chen already knew Netflix would not be available for BlackBerrys when upgrades to access the Amazon Appstore became available, whether a falling out with Netflix occurred after the letter became public, or if there’s no relationship at all between the two events. None of the involved parties are saying.

Derek Abma is editor of The Wire Report. He can be reached at dabma@thewirereport.ca.

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