Correction at 7:20 a.m. PDT: Mark Siegel is a spokesman for AT&T mobility.
Just under a year since first announced, the SlingPlayer Mobile application is finally available for the iPhone. But compared with the capabilities of the same application available on other smartphone platforms, the iPhone version of SlingPlayer is curiously handicapped.
The version set to arrive Wednesday costs $30, and can stream a TV signal from a set connected to a Slingbox to the iPhone. But this version is available using Wi-Fi only. It's notable because the beta version of the application was demonstrated at CES using the iPhone's 3G connection. So why is it turned off in the official release? Recent changes in the terms of service that comes with AT&T's iPhone wireless service may offer some clues.
Apple rejected the original version of the application Sling submitted to the App Store that required use of the phone's 3G service, according to Sling. It was subsequently approved when it was modified so that it will just use local Wi-Fi hot spots. Apple's exact reason for rejecting it isn't clear. There are plenty of video- and audio-streaming applications available today in Apple's App Store, from smaller streaming services like Orb and Last.fm (owned by CNET News publisher CBS Interactive), and heavyweights like MLB.com's At Bat, CBS' TV.com, and YouTube.
While Apple has certainly not been shy about exercising its veto power over App Store applications--just ask Trent Reznor, for example--it's unclear why Sling's streaming video service is being treated differently from, say, the YouTube app (owned by Apple-friendly Google), which has been available on the iPhone since the device's launch.
Apple did not respond to requests for comment about why only the Wi-Fi version of SlingPlayer was approved. But it appears the rejection also could have been at AT&T's behest. Early in April, AT&T changed its terms of service for wireless customers, saying that redirecting TV video or audio signals--as the SlingPlayer does--was no longer allowed on its network. After a public outcry, AT&T quickly reversed its decision, citing "a mistake." But then last week the company reinstated the ban in its TOS.… Read more