Apple’s modest foray into the living room could get a lot more serious if the company expands its AirPlay service to televisions.
Currently, AirPlay only supports streaming audio for third-party devices. This allows users to play their iTunes libraries through stereo systems from partnering companies, such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon. But according to two unnamed sources speaking to Bloomberg, Apple is considering an expansion into streaming video for television sets.
Apple has already built this feature into Apple TV, so if you’ve rented an iTunes movie and are watching it on an iPhone or iPad, you can send it over to the television using AirPlay. If Bloomberg’s report is accurate, Apple may extend this privilege to television makers.
It’d be a clever move for Apple. In lieu of the company’s support, TV makers have forged ahead with their own Internet content platforms, including downloadable apps and video from iTunes rivals such as Amazon and Vudu. If Apple is serious about taking over the living room, it needs a bigger presence than Apple TV, whose 1 million sales milestone was impressive, but not game-changing.
Although we’ve heard rumors for years that Apple will build its own TVs, analysts tell Bloomberg that the TV market could be too risky for Apple because of falling prices and slim margins. By working with TV makers, Apple would sacrifice potential hardware profits, but still earn revenue from iTunes content. Airplay could also make the iPhone and iPad more attractive to consumers.
That is assuming any of this rumor is true. I’m willing to guess, at least, that Apple TV isn’t the last we’ve heard of Cupertino’s television takeover.