Users of Apple’s iOS devices (at least the most recent ones) can beam content from their iPhones and iPads to televisions via Apple TV and home theatre receivers thanks to its AirPlay feature. There are several Android apps out there like iMediaShare that offer similar functionality on a per-app basis, but startup Zapstreak thinks the big-picture opportunity to offer a truly platform-wide solution for making this happen on Google’s mobile OS is something it’s in the best position to provide.
Pozan, Poland-based Zapstreak, which began life as a dedicated app that allows users to broadcast media content stored on their phones to their WiFi-connected TVs using Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) tech, quickly shifted focus to become a software development kit (SDK), usable by any Android developer who wants to make wireless media streaming possible through their own app. Zapstreak co-founder Stefan Bielau told BetaKit in an interview that his company wants to seize the opportunity to become the go-to alternative to rolling their own DLNA solutions for developers.
“The team originally planned to launch an app, but I was thinking ‘blue ocean strategy’ – you don’t want to mess around in a field which is still young and already has people out there doing things very successfully,” he said. Instead, Bielau used his experience advising developers as a consultant to identify a real need for a solution that helped them differentiate their apps and also cut down on development costs. As a result, Zapstreak became an API.
“Zapstreak is a dedicated mobile SDK for media app developers – video, music and photo apps,” Bielau explained. “Take our SDK, pay us a subscription fee on a monthly basis, implement it, update your app, and your users can experience your app on the big screen without any extra hardware.”
Bielau says that Zapstreak will actually provide greater functionality than AirPlay media streaming, since it doesn’t require an Apple TV to work. That’s because DLNA is a widely-used industry standard, incorporated in many modern home theatre components like TVs, receivers and Blu-ray players. Even still, Bielau told BetaKit that Zapstreak is already working on building out AirPlay support in its SDK as well, so that customers who have Android phones but otherwise use Apple tech in their homes can also stream their content wirelessly. One thing AirPlay can do that Zapstreak won’t be able to provide is full mirroring of system and all apps, not just media, but Bielau said that if that’s something they see customers asking for, they’ll look into providing it.
We also asked Bielau if he was worried about Apple potentially shutting down external access to AirPlay down the road, since it has a history of keeping its proprietary software (i.e. iTunes) closed to Android and other devices. He argued that Apple would have a hard time doing that, since changes in how the protocol works would also cut off access to officially-licensed AirPlay devices, or at least require them to upgrade their firmware.
Zapstreak plans to offer its SDK for a flat rate of between $10 and $20 per month to developers, which Bielau calls a “no brainer” for developers compared to costs of reproducing the same functionality in-house. We asked whether he’s worried Google, which acquired music streaming tech Simplify Media back in 2010, might introduce something similar baked right into Android, and he says the prospect actually strikes the company as more of an opportunity. After all, if Zapstreak can demonstrate that it can build a platform that performs dependably and consistently across a variety of apps with both AirPlay and DLNA, Google will likely view it first as a boon to the Android ecosystem, and second as an acquisition target.