In a new analysis, the market research firm iSuppli
is predicting that Apple's new AirPlay protocol could revolutionize what it refers to as the "connected home" market. Saying that "AirPlay has the potential to be a truly disruptive force in the market," iSuppli's analysts believe that the technology could do for wireless multimedia what the iPod did for portable music, propelling it into the top 10 of consumer electronics products.
is Apple's new name for its AirTunes technology, which allowed iTunes music to be streamed to other computers or to AirPort Express devices. AirPlay, however, adds the capability to stream any media from any device that can run iTunes - Mac OS X or Windows computers and mobiles running iOS - to any device that can run iTunes or any AirPlay-compatible sound system, including Apple TV with the upcoming 4.2 iOS upgrade. Apple is working with BridgeCo
, which is already a major player in connected audio with its JukeBlox (ugh) platform, to give audio equipment manufacturers an easy way to build AirPlay support into their gear. AirPlay-enabled speakers will be available soon from manufacturers like iHome, Denon, Bowers & Wilkins and JBL, and receivers will show song metadata like titles and artist names, as well as album artwork on compatible displays.
Like the iPod, AirPlay's technology is far from revolutionary: it's based on a dialect of the Real Time Streaming Protocol that's been used to control audio and video over networks for more than a decade. And like the iPod, which was easy to use and manage with iTunes, AirPlay is seen as making connected audio more user friendly. After all, wireless sound systems have been around for years. One of the most highly-regarded is the Sonos S5 system, which allows users to play not only music from iTunes but also streams from Pandora, Last.fm, Napster and other online services. It requires its own SonosNet mesh network, however, and must be controlled from its proprietary remote or an iOS app. And while AirPlay video streaming isn't supported
on current betas of iOS 4.2, the capability to stream not only audio but pictures and video to your home entertainment system is a huge differentiator between AirPlay and competing wireless systems.
Apple announced AirPlay with little fanfare, and as iSuppli's report said, it was "nearly lost amid Apple Inc.’s recent product and software rollouts." It's likely that the low profile has to do with the fact that AirPlay is not quite complete. However, as a way to make seamless media sharing possible for everyday users (and as a potential method to get jailbroken apps to the Apple TV
for the rest of us), it's certain that we'll be hearing a lot more about AirPlay in the weeks and months to come.
Source: The Mac Observer