BridgeCo to Bring AirPlay Streaming Technology to Home Audio Equipment


At Apple's media event last week, Steve Jobs briefly demoed a new feature called AirPlay rolling out in iTunes and coming to iOS devices in November with iOS 4.2. An extension of the existing AirTunes feature for streaming audio to remote devices from iTunes, AirPlay will allow users to stream audio, song titles, and album art between devices. In addition, users will be able to stream videos and photos between devices, as demonstrated by Jobs in streaming a movie from an iPad to an Apple TV.

As we noted yesterday, third-party companies such as iHome are also looking to deploy AirPlay-compatible products to accept streaming content from Apple's devices. CNBC profiles BridgeCo, the software company Apple has worked with to allow these third-party companies to create AirPlay-compatible products. According to the report, BridgeCo has been granted nearly unprecedented access to Apple's iTunes software and team as it seeks to build out the functionality.

BridgeCo worked with Apple on its new AirPlay, where anyone with an iPod, iPhone, or iPad will be able to walk around his or her home and wirelessly send music from iTunes to receivers made by Denon, iHome Audio, Marantz, JBL, and Bowers & Wilkens. Unlike past products which did something similar, this is not a third-party reverse engineering workaround which has to be reworked every time Apple has a software update.

This is a product created by a third party with Apple's blessing.

BridgeCo CEO Gene Sheridan notes that Apple had little choice in the matter if it wanted to reach its goals for streaming content around the home, as it simply isn't in the stereo equipment market.

"They're not gonna create the world's stereo equipment," he says. Instead, Apple decided BridgeCo had the software and the well-known stereo equipment customers in place, and so Apple agreed to let Sheridan and his team get a look at the iTunes code. What was that like? "There is a magic to Apple that sounds simple," he says, clearly in awe. "They know how to take a complex and feature-rich technology and narrow it." How narrow? Sheridan said after getting a peek inside, BridgeCo provided Apple with a long list of what it could offer the company. "They picked three."

According to Sheridan, AirPlay-enabled stereo equipment should be hitting the market before the holidays, offering a solid lineup of compatible products to help jumpstart AirPlay. BridgeCo has reportedly been working with manufacturers on AirPlay for a year to ensure that everything is lined up and ready to go, with more than half of the company's revenue reportedly now resting on its deal with Apple for the technology.

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