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Apple should grant TV makers licence to stream

AirPlay video coming to your telly?

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Apple wants TV makers to build its AirPlay media-sharing protocol into their sets - if a claim that it's pondering licensing the technology is true.

Apple already allows hi-fi manufacturers - Denon and Altec Lansing offer kit, for example - to incorporate AirPlay to pick up audio streams from iTunes running on Macs and Windows machines, and from iDevices, but according to moles cited by Bloomberg, the company is thinking about making video streaming an option too.

Right now, AirPlay video streaming is supported only by the Apple TV.

Bloomberg's moles say Apple get $4 for every device that ships with AirPlay audio on board. Allowing manufacturers to put it into TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and set-top boxes might well impede future Apple TV sales, but it would make iTunes content accessible to many, many more devices, making it more attractive to consumers as a result.

There's certainly a willingness on the part of consumer electronics companies to load up their products with this kind of technology. Bloomberg's report quotes folk from Pioneer and Philips expressing their interest.

Last week, Sony said it would be incorporating Microsoft's PlayReady DRM technology into its BD players, the better to allow punters to play PC or network storage-hosted paid-for content on its boxes.

DRM may prove a sticking point for Apple, however. AirPlay audio doesn't need to incorporate DRM because iTunes stopped selling DRM-encumbered music years ago, and offered buyers low-cost DRM-free copies of tracks they have bought before that point. But iTunes' video offerings are protected - irritating because it limits the devices they can be played on.

Providing CE vendors access to AirPlay in order to stream iTunes-sold content would necessitate also licensing Apple's FairPlay DRM system. Apple has seemingly never shown willing to offer its content crown jewels before. ®

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