Ben Brooks Asks If AirPlay the App Store for the Apple TV

January 26th, 2011

Ben Brooks thinks AirPlay is a better solution than an App Store for the Apple TV:

Wouldn’t you just prefer to go the ‘two for one’ route and use AirPlay to route the video to the Apple TV? That is wouldn’t it just be easier to enable AirPlay on the Hulu iPad app than it would be to recode something for the Apple TV? Doing this would solve the crappy controller problem, and not cause the customer to download/pay for two apps all while reducing the strain on your companies mobile software development. This seems like a win-win scenario for everyone.

It becomes even more of a no brainer for games too — just look at something like The Incident, where the TV becomes the screen and your iWhatever becomes the controller. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than putting an actual app store on the Apple TV would?

This isn’t a complete solution for streaming applications for the obvious reason that it requires an iOS device to make work, one; two, it requires the user to leave an application running on their iPhone or iPad, which isn’t battery-friendly; and three, even though the AppleTV at $99 is cheap, creating an actual platform, where users can watch content from Netflix, iTunes, and other content providers is what will really sell them.

While AirPlay could technically obviate the need for streaming applications, it absolutely doesn’t solve it for games. AirPlay doesn’t just stream whatever is on your iPad or iPhone to your Apple TV; it streams H.264 video or audio, and there is a mandated delay in doing so. Unless Apple creates something incredible in the next iOS release, there just isn’t a way to stream games to the Apple TV. It doesn’t work.

As I wrote last August, an Apple TV platform would open up a direct avenue to users for content creators. That’s powerful; studios could sell their shows directly to consumers, how they want to,1 and more interestingly, smaller, independent filmmakers could have a genuine way of making money through small films. That’s something worth doing.

That’s all possible through an iOS application and AirPlay, but there’s no way something like that could gain traction following that route. Telling users to (1) purchase an Apple TV, (2) purchase an iOS application, and (3) stream it to their Apple TV is so convoluted few regular users would get past the first step.

But telling them to browse through the App Store on their Apple TV? That’s a different story.

  1. If they actually would is another story, but it’s conceivable Apple could get Disney and Fox on-board. []