High costs limiting adoption of Apple's AirPlay and Thunderbolt technologies

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
High overhead costs associated with adding Apple's new AirPlay and Thunderbolt technologies to devices are serving to limit adoption of those emerging standards by both Apple and third-party hardware manufacturers, according to a report which AppleInsider can corroborate.



In a discussion of the matter, iLounge cites sources at devices makers as stating that the cost of adding AirPlay music streaming support to a set of speakers translates to an approximate $100 surge in the price of those speakers by the time they reach end consumers.



As such, AirPlay is considerably more pricey from an implementation standpoint than adding Apple's standard Made for iPod (iPhone and iPad) Dock Connectors, and is therefore unlikely to turn up in reasonably-priced speaker systems in the near term.



Still, the Cupertino-based iPhone maker is said to be "very heavily pushing developers to adopt the wireless technologies despite the costs involved."



Similarly, the same report notes that the price of the components required to add a Thunderbolt port to an external hard drive "is roughly equal to the cost of a low-end hard drive itself," which may limit Thunderbolt?s near-term adoption to products aimed at the professional market.



For these same reasons, it may take Apple slightly longer to add Thunderbolt support to worthy iOS devices like the iPad, which could explain the Cupertino-based company's decision to opt for Wi-Fi-based synchronization of iOS devices starting with this fall's release iOS 5.



For its part, AppleInsider has been able to corroborate iLounge's claims regarding AirPlay. The technology, which made its debut with iOS 4.2.1 last November, lets iOS devices wirelessly stream audio and video to compatible speaker systems, Apple TVs and audio receivers hooked up to an AirPort Express.







It works in conjunction with a chip supplied by BridgeCo, whom Apple joined forces with to promote AirPlay in the marketplace. But sources familiar with the matter note that the cost of the required BridgeCo WiFi module alone runs between $20 and $25 even before R&D, engineering, marketing and other costs are factored into the mix.



That's significantly more than the $1.00 licensing fee hardware makers must fork over to Apple to for each device that adds a 30-pin Dock Connector for charging capabilities (or the $4.00 licensing fee for those products which make extended use of the Dock Connector for syncing, transferring music data, and so forth).



Apple reportedly shares device maker's concerns over the high costs of supporting AirPlay and is actively seeking alternative suppliers of AirPlay modules from different sources, according to one person familiar with the matter. The company is already believed to be working with at least one new supplier to bring such an alternative to market, but those familiar with the matter were not at liberty to disclose the identity of that firm.



In the meantime, AirPlay-enabled accessories making their way to market in the short term are likely to be priced around or above the $300 mark, though Philips? $229 Fidelio AD7000W introduced just yesterday at CE Week has stood out as the first AirPlay-enabled speaker system to be priced below $299.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    I want AirPlay to replace DLNA altogether. Soon?
  • Reply 2 of 47
    dagamer34dagamer34 Posts: 494member
    Correction, lack of availability limits adoption.
  • Reply 3 of 47
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    Fine. Airplay costs more because wireless almost always costs more than wired. But then...



    Quote:

    Similarly, the same report notes that the price of the components required to add a Thunderbolt port to an external hard drive "is roughly equal to the cost of a low-end hard drive itself," which may limit Thunderbolt?s near-term adoption to products aimed at the professional market.



    I followed the link and didn't see any reference to this. Why is this even mentioned in this article?



    (And why should TB cost as much as 'a low-end hard drive'? It's my understanding that it simply externalizes the PCI bus, at which point it should be roughly the cost of eSATA to implement at the external enclosure. I don't get it.)
  • Reply 4 of 47
    jonamacjonamac Posts: 384member
    Forgive me the question: If it adds $100 to a system's cost to incorporate AirPlay, how does Apple offer AppleTV for $99?
  • Reply 5 of 47
    ^ now that is a good question about apple tv



    --



    As for thunderbolt, does it cost that much to make an adaptor? TB > esata or whatever. Where are the promised convertors of anything to TB. The way this is going it is going to turn into another FW debacle. You'd think after scsi and fw that something might have been learned about introducing new ports.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    Forgive me the question: If it adds $100 to a system's cost to incorporate AirPlay, how does Apple offer AppleTV for $99?



    Well-observed indeed.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    Forgive me the question: If it adds $100 to a system's cost to incorporate AirPlay, how does Apple offer AppleTV for $99?



    Great question!



    AI? Experts? Complainers?
  • Reply 8 of 47
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,591member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    Forgive me the question: If it adds $100 to a system's cost to incorporate AirPlay, how does Apple offer AppleTV for $99?



    Exactly, this article is typical AI click bait bullshit.



    Nothing to see here.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,309member
    What a nonsense, I mean Apple hasn't even implemented AirPlay system-wide in Mac OS X 10.6 or 10.7! Why incentivize what they haven't even done a good job of implementing themselves?!



    NO AIRPLAY IN QUICKTIME PLAYER OR PLUGIN EVEN!
  • Reply 10 of 47
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... iLounge cites sources at devices makers as stating that the cost of adding AirPlay music streaming support to a set of speakers translates to an approximate $100 surge in the price of those speakers ... It works in conjunction with a chip supplied by BridgeCo ... the cost ... runs between $20 and $25 ....



    So the chip costs $25 but they are saying that they have to charge an extra hundred for the speakers?



    Wow, these guys are so reasonable and honest I really feel for them and totally understand why they aren't making AirPlay speakers. Assholes.



    What "R&D" do you have to do to implement a fully documented, solution on a chip in a new speaker product? Sweet F*ck All.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    So the chip costs $25 but they are saying that they have to charge an extra hundred for the speakers?



    Wow, these guys are so reasonable and honest I really feel for them and totally understand why they aren't making AirPlay speakers. Assholes.



    What "R&D" do you have to do to implement a fully documented, solution on a chip in a new speaker product? Sweet F*ck All.



    Hey prof, what's up with all those four-letter words....!?



    Oops, sorry for using a four-letter word to address you!
  • Reply 12 of 47
    kent909kent909 Posts: 711member
    I am not sure the real obstacle to AirPlay is hardware. I would satisfied if every thing I can watch on my iPad could be played through my Apple TV. iOS 4.2 has been out quite a while now.
  • Reply 13 of 47
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Right, seems dubious.



    Intel engineered Thunderbolt, could they really not make an I/O standard that wasn't prohibitively expensive? And if it is, Intel must have known that, so why did they bother?



    And I don't get the "$25 for the chip plus R&D, engineering, marketing, etc."



    What R&D, engineering and marketing? Your buying a module that provides signal. You provide power and a signal path to your device. Your sunk costs are trivial, and why is it going to cost you more to "market" a product because it has additional, highly desirable functionality? Because you were thinking about making some speakers but once you have to write "AirPlay Ready" on the box it prices you out of the market?



    Or maybe you weren't going to make anything at all until you could do the AirPlay thing, how is that a marketing cost associated with the AirPlay module? It's like saying Samsung TVs that include Netflix streaming are more expensive because they're obliged to mention that fact, unlike, you know, every other feature on the device.
  • Reply 14 of 47
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    you only need to buy a $100 AppleTV to add AirPlay to your fancy sound system now. so we are really just talking about portable and tabletop products, and their convenience factor.



    i see iHome has added a full product page for the Airplay iW1 speaker they have been touting for months. still says "Coming Soon" tho, you can't buy one.



    http://www.ihomeaudio.com/iW1BC/



    for $300 they promise a unit with a set of good features that i will actually use. a nice portable/tabletop combo. so it's a fair price for new tech hardware. prices will drop gradually over the next few years. i remember when blutooth stuff was new and expensive once.



    other high end speakers cost much more - like Bose. AirPlay is going to wipe out their $600 per unit wireless Wave Music system. and Sonos and the rest. they will have to license AirPlay to survive.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    caliminiuscaliminius Posts: 944member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post


    I want AirPlay to replace DLNA altogether. Soon?



    How about never? That's what I want. Heck, that's what any sane person not betting their financial future on Apple's stock price should want. Airplay is basically a proprietary system with companies allowed to create receiver-end products but not transmitter-end products meaning you're at the graces of Apple as to what products will and won't have Airplay transmission capabilities. On top of that, right now Apple is even holding back the video stream receiving portion so Airplay implemented by anyone other than Apple only has half the capabilities of DLNA. Contrast that with DLNA, which can be implemented on either end by any company with full audio and video capabilities. If Apple were to open up Airplay at both the transmitting and receiving ends I might consider it a legitimate alternative to DLNA. Of course if Apple did that, there'd be no reason for Apple to have ever developed Airplay.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    What "R&D" do you have to do to implement a fully documented, solution on a chip in a new speaker product? Sweet F*ck All.



    Even 'fully documented solutions' often end up requiring significant system integration. In this instance I guess speaker designers have to make some fundamental changes to their existing designs to accomodate the module. You'll need a wi-fi antenna, and it obviously needs to be outside any screening on the enclosure. They may need more of that screening though to make sure that the wi-fi signal doesn't interfere with the audio. Then they have to decide are they going to stick an LCD screen on or not? The SoC supports one and obviously if you want the device to support internet radio and streaming services then a screen will be needed, as will a controller. You'll also have to write code to support the controller. Half of those premium streaming services will require logging in and configuring - more controller requirements. Then you need to test the whole kit & kaboodle, because telling people to reboot their stereo isn't going to be popular.



    To put it into normal human terms - think of it like moving house. You pack up all the furniture, all the kitchenware, all the books, dvds, clothes and the things like that and you figure that you're done. Then you start finding 'stuff', it's everywhere - things you didn't remember you owned.



    System integration is like that crap- it's all the stuff that you don't even remember that you need, until you try to get rid of it.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,902member
    There is a reasonable question about what is up with AirPlay. It shouldn't cost much at all unless Apple is real greedy with licensing.



    Thunderbolt is a whole different ball game. I've said repeatedly in these forums that TB will not be competing with USB. At least not anytime soon. It is a high end interface that has yet to be integrated into a SoC. Due to that and the need to have both input and output ports on peripherals I suspect it will be some time before anything TB based is cost effective.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    High overhead costs associated with adding Apple's new AirPlay and Thunderbolt technologies to devices are serving to limit adoption of those emerging standards by both Apple and third-party hardware manufacturers, according to a report which AppleInsider can corroborate.





    Still, the Cupertino-based iPhone maker is said to be "very heavily pushing developers to adopt the wireless technologies despite the costs involved."



    Similarly, the same report notes that the price of the components required to add a Thunderbolt port to an external hard drive "is roughly equal to the cost of a low-end hard drive itself," which may limit Thunderbolt?s near-term adoption to products aimed at the professional market.







    These idiots need to listen to Steve. ThunderBolt is the future. They want to wallow in the past, like the record companies. Fools.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    Forgive me the question: If it adds $100 to a system's cost to incorporate AirPlay, how does Apple offer AppleTV for $99?



    Could it be that AppleTV has only one chip for 802.11n WiFi and AirPlay somehow piggy backs off that? Similar to AirDrop in Lion, it creates a separate WiFi connection even though you only have one WiFi chip in your laptop.



    For the wireless speakers, they have to buy this BridgeCo chip. The AppleTV doesn't need an extra chip.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    pika2000pika2000 Posts: 41member
    Cheapest solution is to just get an Airport Express. It even has digital out. Just add your own speaker/hifi.
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