According to ElectricPig.tv (a website that I’d never heard of until today), Sling Media is already planning a version of its SlingPlayer software for the iPhone/iPod Touch. The SlingPlayer, in conjunction with the company’s SlingBox set-top box, enables a home’s TV signal (cable box, digital tuner or PVR) to be streamed over a broadband connection to either a PC or mobile phone. Currently, SlingPlayer is available for Mac and Windows, along with mobile versions for Blackberry, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian devices.
ElectricPig.tv quotes an “extremely senior source” at Sling Media: “iPhone and iPod Touch are OS X devices, and we can write OS X apps with our eyes closed. It’s coming.” However, while the iPhone’s spacious screen and multi-touch UI would be a natural fit for a version of SlingPlayer, the device’s reliance on the slower EDGE network could be an issue. With that being the case, WiFi will be the preferred connectivity option until a 3G version of the iPhone surfaces, meaning that, for the time being at least, “the iPod Touch could end up being the best way to use SlingPlayer”, according to the source.
Adding weight to the story, Mac Rumors claims that Sling Media is one of the third-party developers to have been selected to receive an early version of Apple’s official Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform, which isn’t due for public release until February. If this proves to be the case, then SlingPlayer for iPhone could be one of the flagship third-party applications expected to be demoed during Steve Jobs’ keynote at Macworld next week.
One theory that pours cold water on SlingPlayer for iPhone, is that Apple wouldn’t want Sling Media’s place-shifting offering to compete with content from iTunes. If users can easily send their TV signal to the iPhone/iPod Touch, they may buy less content from Apple. However, even without Apple’s blessing, it could be that Sling Media builds a web-based version of SlingPlayer, which streams in H.264, a format that the iPhone/iPod Touch’s web browser already understands.