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.
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.