It seems like Apple may be pricing itself into a corner, at least with its proprietary AirPlay and Thunderbolt technologies. Reports today revealed that Apple’s licensing fees for the two technologies are prohibitively expensive. The prices are said to be too high for either technology to see mainstream adoption in the near future.
AirPlay is a proprietary Apple wireless streaming technology that can stream audio as well as video content wirelessly between Apple devices. Currently, Apple is only licensing out the audio streaming portion of the technology, which can add as much as $100 to the price of an audio system.
The Thunderbolt technology developed in partnership with Intel allows for high-speed bi-directional data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps. It’s said to be 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than USB 2.0. The price for the required hardware for licensees is said to cost as much as a low-end hard drive. An upcoming Thunderbolt-enabled third-party device is the LaCie Little Big Disk, which we got our hands-on, but have not yet confirmed pricing.
Apple may see exclusivity as a competitive advantage, but it creates frustration for customers by forcing them to use only a specific ecosystem of products. This could also give rivals such as Google an opportunity to take an open approach that would make their alternative a better option and eventually the more widespread standard.