Ever wondered why all the AirPlay speakers coming onto the market is priced so high compared to other non-streaming iPod speaker docks? According to recent reports the issue lies in the cost of the AirPlay technology itself.
In a recent article iLounge revealed that according to their sources at speaker docks manufacturers, the cost of adding AirPlay music streaming to a system could easily result in the system ending up costing the consumer up to $100 more than without AirPlay, which is similar to what we have seen with the new B&W Zeppelin Air compared to the original.
The claims of high cost of adopting AirPlay has also been corroborated by Appleinsider, citing that just the cost of the BridgeCo WiFi module used to deliver Airplay streaming runs at $20-25, and that is before any R&D, engineering, or marketing cost has been added on top of it. The result is a technology that is far more costly for manufacturers to adopt than the $1 license fee they have to pay to Apple for every device that features a 30-pin dock connector ($4 for extended use). They are also reporting that the cost of the AirPlay module is of concern to Apple and that they are working on a way to reduce that cost.
Question is, for how long can Apple push the benefits of AirPlay streaming at this additional cost to the consumer, knowing what might be coming around the bend in terms of new technologies or improved old ones?
If we are talking audio streaming only without any added features, then Apple is already in competition with other technologies such as bluetooth and kleer, but perhaps more interesting is what might be coming from Apple rival Google and their Android @home technology.
The new home automation solution from Google, which amongst other things could allow you to control your sound system/media hub, could be just the competition that is needed to make Apple get running with reducing the cost of AirPlay integration.
Now Apple is well known to be very protective of their own productsphere, so there is no guarantee that Apple iOS devices will play nicely with a new Google technology that might direct rival that of their own, but if the technology/product/usage of it is good enough, it might force Apple to both improve and reduce the cost of their own technology, which in the end should make us as consumers better off.
So far we have had to be prepared to shell out £300+ for an AirPlay compatible speaker dock, but hopefully AirPlay streaming in the future will become as mainstream as the 30-pin dock connector is today, and just as affordable too.