This TechCrunch article, written by David McIntosh of Redux, insists that AirPlay is not the new Apple TV. However, it starts from a flawed assumption that Apple would need to license the technology to many TV manufacturers.
The only technology Apple has really cared to license is the dock connector, and that was specifically to get an accessory ecosystem going in order to sell more devices. Integrating with TVs isn’t going to sell more devices, because the users that would buy such a television already have a device. The only immediate incentive Apple has to license the technology is to collect a hefty licensing fee, but that doesn’t amount to much.
Let’s say that licensing fee is $100 per unit (which no TV manufacturer is going to pay, but let’s give Apple the benefit of the doubt). There were 250 million television shipments last year. That’s a maximum of $24 billion per year, and we know the per-unit fee and the share of TVs using the technology would be much smaller. And with TV shipments falling year over year, that number would decrease over time. For a company that does $13 billion a month in revenue, this is quickly becoming chump change.
Another indirect incentive for Apple to license AirPlay would be to increase revenue for iTunes content. But, iTunes was always a ploy to attract people to purchasing Apple devices, not vice-versa.
I’m still of the opinion that Apple’s going to build a TV of its own and sell it to the richest consumers who already are invested in Apple’s media ecosystem.