A Bloomberg report published today suggests that Apple may be planning to license its AirPlay service to third-party devices that would allow users to stream video content from iTunes or their iOS device straight to their HDTV. AirPlay will already stream audio to non-Apple devices, but in order to enjoy video streaming to your TV, you need the $99 AppleTV set top box.
Citing two sources familiar with Apple’s project, Bloomberg reports:
“Under the plan, Apple would license its AirPlay software to consumer-electronics makers that could use it in devices for streaming movies, TV shows and other video content…” “An expanded AirPlay would let users stream programming wirelessly from an Apple mobile device to a TV that carries the technology. That may spur wider use of Apple’s services and devices in consumers’ living rooms.”
If the plan goes ahead, TV manufacturers would have the opportunity to build AirPlay compatibility into new TV sets, enabling users to stream all of their media wirelessly to their HDTV, without anything in between. Of course, this means that Apple’s own AppleTV would no longer be needed to provide a link between your iTunes library and your TV, and demand for the device would fall significantly as more and more people upgrade to TVs with AirPlay functionality out of the box.
With that said, would Apple really provide third-party manufacturers with the option to include AirPlay at its own expense? Well, AirPlay support in third-party devices is already halfway their, with a handful of products already available on the market that support AirPlay audio streaming. Apple revealed it was working with other manufacturers to integrate audio streaming into other devices, and according to Bloomberg, the company receives $4 for each device sold with AirPlay compatibility.
However, AppleTV is all about movies, TV shows, and other video content. Not many people buy an AppleTV purely to stream audio to their TV, so allowing AirPlay audio streaming to other third-party devices isn’t going to steal too much interest from AppleTV. Whereas introducing video streaming certainly would.
The report also revealed that BridgeCo., the chip manufacturer behind Apple’s AirPlay magic, has been working with “several TV makers” on future HD sets. Whether this has anything to do with AirPlay however, is a mystery.