Seth Weintraub wrote a great piece today on 9 to 5 Mac about the newly redesigned AppleTV‘s AirPlay functionality that will allow users to stream video, music, and photos from their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch directly to their TVs. As Apple describes it:
You can already stream music, photos, and video from your computer to Apple TV. With AirPlay, you can stream it all from your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, too. So if you feel like watching a movie you have on one of your devices, you don’t need to rent or buy it again. Just tap to start playing content on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, then tap again to instantly stream whatever you’re watching—or listening to—directly to Apple TV. AirPlay is coming soon to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch near you.
In fact, according to MacRumors, iOS 4.2 Beta users have already reported being able to stream audio to AirPlay enabled devices. The question that remained, however was “how protected content works such as Hulu.” But more interestingly, as one of the Beta users spimp31 clarified on Mac Forums, “You can now stream from any app that does quicktime video or audio.” What spimp31 should have said was “you can only stream from any app that does quicktime”—a key difference.
Weintraub recalls that a few months ago Steve Jobs told audiences from the AllThingsD conference that what has been holding back Google and Apple from success in the TV space is the lack of a successful “go to market TV strategy.” That strategy, it turns out, is AirPlay. AirPlay-enabled devices aren’t just playing iTunes content but rather any H.264 (Apple’s proprietary video codec) content on the web. This, according to Weintraub,
includes any video that can play on your iOS 4.2 device, like: Facebook video, YouTube, Netflix, Videos, BBC News, MLB and really anything else you can watch on your iOS device. That also includes videos built into Apps and magazine subscriptions too. All of this can be beamed to your AppleTV via AirPlay.
The onslaught of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—all devices which do not support Flash—has pushed content producers to a tipping point between Flash and H.264. And AirTunes may be the straw that breaks Flash’s back. AppleTV’s vision of the living room experience is a consumer using the iOS device in hand as both a discovery tool and a remote. Surf the internet, find something cool, throw it up on the TV. Bam. This is why the AppleTV has no hard drive, uses little power, and costs only $99. The AppleTV is simply a video interface for the iOS device.
And if Flash distributors don’t get wise, they are going to be left in the dust.