AirPlay and Thunderbolt May Be Limited to High-End Devices to Start

Earlier today, we noted that LaCie is preparing to roll out its first Thunderbolt-enabled Little Big Disk external hard drives, although the initial models will be limited to higher-end SSD-based devices.

iLounge now reports that slow roll-out of Thunderbolt and the lack of consumer-based options may be due to high pricing for incorporating the technology, an issue that appears to also be affecting third-party peripherals compatible with Apple's AirPlay streaming technology. According to the report, the inclusion of Thunderbolt or AirPlay compatibility can add as much as $100 to the price of these devices, limiting their ability to address mainstream consumer markets.

Our sources have described the AirPlay technologies as considerably more expensive to incorporate than Apple's standard docking Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad Dock Connectors, and noted that Apple is very heavily pushing developers to adopt the wireless technologies despite the costs involved.

We similarly have learned that the price of the components required to add a Thunderbolt port to an external hard drive is roughly equal to the cost of a low-end hard drive itself, a high cost that one developer has suggested will limit Thunderbolt's near-term use to products aimed at the professional market.

For the time being, announced Thunderbolt products do seem to be coming in at price points above those typically within range of mainstream consumers, as evidenced by Promise's 8 TB Pegasus RAID R4, which briefly appeared on Apple's store priced at $1399.95 before being pulled. That price is only $100 more than for Promise's current 8 TB RAID offering, but it remains to be seen just how quickly Thunderbolt will be able to make its way into more mainstream products.

promise thunderbolt raid
iLounge suggests that there may at least be some hope for price drops for AirPlay devices in the relatively near future, noting that Philips earlier this week debuted AirPlay-compatible speaker systems with price tags as low as $229, a new floor in what has until now seen the feature primarily limited to higher-end receivers.

Top Rated Comments

baleensavage Avatar
147 months ago
Didn't Apple learn from the Firewire debacle? There's a reason USB won over Firewire and it isn't because it's a better technology. Apple has to stop with these expensive licensing issues if they want their technologies to stick. And they talk about Blu-Ray being a "big bag of hurt..." :rolleyes:
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
theheadguy Avatar
147 months ago
This is part of the reason I don't understand why people were *so* excited over this. How could anyone expect anything different? I wouldn't expect this to be mainstream for a couple years.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
moose.boy Avatar
147 months ago
Is this really news ? I mean, seriously ?

You've got an interface that appears to be the extension of the bus on the motherboard - we're not talking 8bit ISA cards here, that has only just come out, and that is only available on new computers. Look at USB peripherals when they first came out !

Secondly for airplay - it's more expensive to build a 802.1x device with appropriate protocols on board than it is to put a dock - really ? are you sure ? really sure ? I'm assuming based on this the next headline will be 'rain gets you wet' .

The quality of mac news reporting is rapidly hitting lowest common denominator level with big scary headlines, glib, technically inaccurate statements and general lack of common sense and/or thought within articles.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
herocero Avatar
147 months ago
ridiculous conclusion

The comparison made here is silly. The Pegasus model without Thunderbolt is a mere $100 less. The fastest connection speed it supports is eSATA 3Gbps (not even 6Gbps). For an extra $100 you have access to Thunderbolt speeds, and this is going to slow adoption among this market segment? Give me a break. Probably not for consumers at the start, but to think a Thunderbolt device with this price increase for the extra performance wouldn't take off in this prosumer/enterprise environment is a silly conclusion.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TMay Avatar
147 months ago
This.

I just can't help but think that thunderbolt is either going to become a dead standard or is going to be really slow at being adopted. It just seems usb 3.0 will take over in that time.

Pro's will pick TB for audio and video capture as TB has very low latency and has capabilities of syncing data streams. Think of TB as a superset of USB 3.0 capabilites, just as Intel does.

The two standards are complementary, but everyone wants to make a horse race out of it. Apple will support USB 3.0 when Intel supports in on the chipsets for Ivy Bridge late this year.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
johneaston Avatar
147 months ago
Why do Thunderbolt ports equal an "ultra quiet design"? Are USB and FireWire ports noisy?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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