Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sling Media commits to the iPad; devices stream TV to mobile devices; day one launch not happening, though

They may have had difficulties launching their services on the iPhone due to 3G restrictions, but now Sling Media says they are getting ready for the iPad.

Dave Zatz, publisher of Zatz Not Funny, quotes a Sling Media marketing manager as saying “the iPad is a good example of a device where we are hard at work on this, but unfortunately it won’t be there at the April launch.”

The company's Sling Box products are wildly popular with owners (though some complain about support) but fly under the radar with the general public. Owner EchoStar, which bought the company in 2007, has not been a big promoter of the devices.

A Slingbox, for those not familiar with the product, is hooked up to your cable or satellite box. After setup it then can stream your television programming, through the Internet, to other devices such as a laptop, iPhone, or potentially, an iPad. Because of the high bandwidth required, initially the Slingbox could only stream to the iPhone through WiFi, but later the company was able to get AT&T to agree to 3G streaming, as well. This moving of media from one device to another is called placeshifting.

Streaming television from devices such as your computer to your television is becoming popular as television and BluRay manufacturers begin adding some Internet connectivity to their products. But Sling Media continues to lead when the streaming goes the other way.

The importance to media companies? Every company like Sling Media that commits to supporting tablets furthers the use of those products for media consumption -- a good thing for publishers who are worried about whether their development costs can be justified.

(Sling Media's web sites seem to be down this afternoon. I find that a bit worrisome for a company that uses the net to stream media.)