I'm pretty sure that devices adapt to what Netflix gives them, not the other way around, particularly these days. You create a device that can't display Netflix's streams, then you bring a device to market without a Netflix app while all of its competitors have one. (Someone did this recently, though I doubt that it was because their product was incapable of handling Netflix. I recall discussing the thing in the Roku forums, though I forget what it was. It might have been the latest iteration of WD TV; they're not listing Netflix among their US online services
. They say "you don't need another player for Netflix" in their spiel. Lots of files-from-LAN-server oriented streamers--like Popcorn Hour--eschew apps for Netflix and some other of the most popular services, though they generally have apps for some
network services. WD TV might now be one such; my 3rd gen WD TV Live is the single most capable networked file player that I own and has astonished me with the variety of things it can play).
The sole exception to this has been Apple devices. Since Apple already had HLS (completely incompatible with what they were doing for other platforms) they created an app which used that and an encoding profile for it. They said they had it working in 1.5 weeks after Apple invited them to be part of the original iPad launch and had it up and running on iPad with 20K titles (2 bit rates each) in 2 months. They've continued to evolve and support that profile and probably will keep doing it; Apple's customer base is certainly worth the effort.
Other than iOS devices, I believe that every device with a Netflix streaming app which launched in the past 3 years uses their "CE2" profile (as well as Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, which are older), with AVC video, separate audio and timed text. They can support multiple platforms in multiple regions with different language requirements with a single set of encodes; it's very elegant. Also, their library is into multiple petabytes already; branching off special profiles to support specific groups of devices is not desirable.