Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

SlingPlayer Limps Into Apple’s iPhone App Store. Who Crippled It?

crutchesThe SlingPlayer iPhone app–software that lets you watch programming from your own TV on your Apple handset–will go on sale at iTunes sometime after midnight Eastern tonight.

For the relatively small but ardent number of people who already own the SlingPlayer box, which comes separately and which you’ll need to make the iPhone app work, this is a big deal. Those folks are also likely to be OK paying $29.95 for software, which is much, much more than the average iPhone app price.

For the rest of us, the noteworthy news about the SlingPlayer app is about a feature it doesn’t have–the ability to work over AT&T’s wireless network. If you want to watch your television shows on your iPhone using the app, you’ll need to be in range of a Wi-Fi network.

The SlingPlayer folks had originally promised that the app would work using either method. But somewhere along the line they had to strip that capability out in order to make it into Apple’s iPhone store.

What happened? “Ask Apple,” says a SlingPlayer rep.

I have, but haven’t heard back. But the implication here is that either Apple (AAPL) or AT&T (T), its U.S. wireless partner, doesn’t want you watching unlimited TV on the iPhone. At least not via┬áSling, which is owned by satellite TV provider EchoStar (SATS).

Why not? AT&T allows SlingPlayer applications on other devices. So perhaps it figures that iPhone users are much more likely to chew up network capacity than, say, BlackBerry users. Or perhaps Apple has some other issue with TV delivered over wireless via a third-party app. Anyone want to hazard a guess?

UPDATE: “The SlingPlayer Mobile app for the App Store is currently approved for use over Wi-Fi networks only. AT&T’s current terms of service do not allow for the redirection of television over their 3G network,” says Apple PR. AT&T has a longer statement which says more or less the same thing, yet leads to some head-scratching.

[Image credit: Frank Talk]