With AirPlay, Apple TV Finally Takes Flight

Apple TV with remote

Poor Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) TV was starting to get overshadowed in recent months with all the attention being paid to the likes of Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV and Boxee. But Monday’s unveiling of iOs 4.2 should bring back some buzz for a device no one should underestimate.

Apple TV has been knocked for being little more than a $99 hockey puck given the improvements Steve Jobs announced for the device in September didn’t do much to enhance its already crappy image. But AirPlay, one of the many features that comes with iOs 4.2, the upgrade to the operating system to Apple’s mobile devices, is a real win.

What AirPlay does is allow Apple TV to talk directly to other Apple devices including iPhone, iTouch and iPad. That makes good on two sought-after technology-consumption habits. First, seamlessly migrating a video from one device to another is a cool capability, particularly because AirPlay enables you to watch a program on one device, stop midway, and kick it over to the TV set if need be. Given the conventional wisdom that the biggest screen tends to be the preferred device for viewing, Apple TV can ride the momentum of Apple’s far more popular devices that suddenly pale in comparison when a consumer would rather finish a movie he or she started on the iPad outside the home on the living-room monitor.

Second, building a stronger relationship between devices will lead to more natural opportunities for “co-viewing,” a nice term media companies came up with to encourage the multiple screens many viewers typically simultaneously surround themselves with to be delivering a coordinated programming experience. AirPlay not only gets iPad and Apple TV talking, but frees up iPad to do other things once the migration of content is triggered. That way iPad is there to be a second window for synchronous transmission of content via apps, something ABC and MTV have already been experimenting with.

Just last week, In-Stat projected that the average U.S. household will own 5-10 Internet-connected devices by 2014. If gizmos are going to have a lot of company, they might as well get to know each other.

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