iSuppli: Apple’s AirPlay Could Revolutionize Consumer Audio

Apple’s new AirPlay technology could “revolutionize” consumer audio, according to research firm iSuppli. The firm said that Apple’s ability to bring a seamless user experience to the notion of networked audio could achieve the same explosion of the networked audio market that the company brought to digital media devices with the iPod.

AirPlay was introduced as standard by Apple during its September 1st media event. It was a minor bullet point during a presentation of many major new products and services, but iSuppli called AirPlay, “one of the most significant announcements of all.”

The technology allows users to stream music from iTunes to any AirPlay-enabled speakers, docks, or receivers in your home. It builds off the technology Apple introduced with the original AirPort Express that allowed you to stream music to speakers connected to one of those base stations.

By opening up the technology to third party vendors, including high-end component makers Denon and Bowers & Wilkins, Apple has opened up a world of widespread adoption of AirPlay.

AirPlay at Work

AirPlay at work

In addition to Apple’s in-house only version of this technology, many other companies have been offering networked audio for years. For instance, Sonos has had great success by offering networked audio with access to your iTunes library, as well as to streaming radio stations, online services such as Pandora and, and other forms of streaming music.

iSuppli believes that by being able to offer an easy to set up and use experience with third party vendors supporting something that is controlled through iTunes itself that it could be as disruptive in this space as it has been in other spaces during the last ten years.

“The seamless part seems to be the major sticking point,” the company said in a statement. “The primary reason being that home audio networks have not grown to the level expected given the consumer’s seemingly insatiable appetite for music.”

“Addressing the seamless connection of audio is the area where AirPlay has the potential to be a truly disruptive force in the market, potentially turning it into a Top 10 consumer electronics segment with unit volumes perhaps even comparable to televisions,” the company added.

Looking at the iPod, for instance, iSuppli noted that while Apple’s vaunted marketing skills no doubt helped sell the device, it was the iPod’s “simplicity and push-button interface” that was no doubt the major factor of the device’s success.

If Apple can do the same thing with AirPlay, the firm posited, it could see the same kind of success in this market as it did with iPod.

“When consumers don’t have to Google various error codes and reset firewalls in order to enjoy music libraries and Internet radio throughout the home, the networked home audio market could reach a true crescendo,” iSuppli reasoned.