Feeds

Apple's AirPlay: Bring the walled garden home

Double standards

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Another Wall

Having led the market years ago with such a fine implementation, technically elegant and easy to use, Apple has opted to treat streaming as another part of a walled garden. Today you can add a UPnP server to your Mac via third-party software, point the software at your iTunes music collection or iPhoto library, and enjoy your media wirelessly on devices around the house. There are several options available - I've found the Mac version of PacketVideo's Twonky to be the most consistently reliable. But why, you wonder, should you need to?

"Apple's choice to perpetuate their walled garden I feel is a setback to market adoption of what's possible with networked entertainment systems," fretted one member of the Computeraudiophile board last week. "AirPlay is less about freeing your music and video and more about a controlled expansion of the iTunes ecosystem," noted one blog. Apple's TV box is another part of the picture, and it's basically a DRM system - like the old hardware dongles that came with expensive software in the 1980s - attached to your home network.

Some might argue that once Apple decided to bet on HD video delivery, it had no choice but to create a locked-down walled garden. This argument doesn't wash. Just because the rental movies and TV shows are locked down, there's no reason your music should be, too. DRM was removed from music catalogs including the iTunes Store a couple of years ago.

The most charitable view of the walled garden I can find is that DLNA-certified equipment still doesn't interoperate reliably, so Apple is guaranteeing a "quality of experience" for its users - provided they buy the end-to-end Apple certified kit. When DLNA reaches a certain level of maturity, Apple will generously drop the walled garden approach.

But you can argue reductio ad absurdium, that if Apple cares so much, it may as well put third-party mouse, keyboard, scanner and printer manufacturers on a similarly short leash, with proprietary protocols licensed to each one. Just to guarantee that quality of experience, you know?

The walled garden adds needless confusion to the market place. The problem is that a PS3 or Xbox console are already established in many family households, which overnight become rather more Apple-phobic than they need be. Apple should be able to win in a market it doesn't control: it already makes the nicest computers and mobile playback devices.

But unless Apple and the other industry leaders can agree to play nice, it's less likely that computers will "discover each other and just share stuff", as Steve promised eight years ago. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.