For Apple iPhone and iPad owners with an Apple TV, the AirPlay function is one of those you-have-to-see-this gadget showcases. A tap of an icon on a device sends the current video, audio or slide show playing on the AirPlay-ready compatible IOS app to your big-screen TV or home theater. Cool -- if you have the requisite Apple-certified hardware. Android owners don't get such an easy path to media-sharing goodness.
But an open DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) standard is emerging among all the other hardware makers that might give Android the upper hand here. In a new report from IMS Research, the mobile analysts see device-based media management as the next big living-room thing -- and it may leave Apple behind.
The DLNA says it certified over 1,000 TV models in Q1 2011 that support the standard, which like AirPlay, lets the user of a mobile or laptop device send their media to the TV. Most of the major manufacturers producing connected TVs with the built-in WiFi-enabling technology are in the coalition -- from Samsung to Sony, LG to Sharp.
The standard is open, so any Android hardware manufacturer can embed a DNLA media server in its hardware to be compatible. This is the perfect way to get a leg up on Apple. IMS Research says that Apple is unlikely to embrace an open standard like DLNA. Apple's insistence on sticking with its own proprietary AirPlay system could cede much of the emerging media-sharing market to Android.
And that could prove to be a large market.
IMS suggests that the increased inclusion of DLNA support on smartphones will help drive awareness of the function. "We also expect to see a new culture of video portability emerge from that awareness," says senior analyst Stephen Froelich. For those markets that adopt the standard across devices, "the smartphone essentially becomes a personal ID key that unlocks a consumer's access to his or her own content library and then serves it to any DLNA video client in a home."