In the annals of high tech history, you will find many battles between companies, chaebals, consortiums, and standards bodies. This is true today for the security, content sharing and messaging in home automation. For instance we have the AllSeen Alliance, Designed for Nest (Google), Apple’s HomeKit, and OIC all vying for a place at the table. You see, everyone wants their standard to be the one that everyone writes to. The problem is that isn’t going to happen as the high tech industry wants choice. These groups will battle for years, and in the meantime, expect to see products come out that support one or more of these standards. This is where Qualcomm’s AllPlay comes into the picture as they have announced some major audio products supporting the AllPlay/AllJoyn standard.
Qualcomm’s AllPlay “smart media platform” is a multimedia platform designed for today’s connected user that carries their music around them all day long on their phone and using a streaming service. The beauty of AllPlay is that it allows the user to stream music of their choosing directly through to the speakers rather than streaming to the phone and then having the phone transmit to the speakers. In most cases, the smartphone is merely a remote for the speakers rather than an audio source. This significantly increases the battery life of smartphone users wanting to stream music as well as the quality of the audio since it isn’t a simple Bluetooth connection like most consumers currently use.
AllPlay’s platform is a combination of their software along with their hardware, which is specifically designed to transmit high quality audio over Wi-Fi while simultaneously being completely invisible to the consumer. AllPlay is based on Qualcomm’s own open source software framework called AllJoyn which is part of a broader AllSeen Alliance designed to help proliferate and simplify IoT and connected media.
However, currently in order to implement AllPlay, one must have both the hardware and software components from Qualcomm in order to work. Even so, Qualcomm has successfully brought on a multitude of partners that are either already launching products with AllPlay or that have committed this year to bring AllPlay products to market.
Some of Qualcomm’s committed hardware partners include Bayan Audio, Goodmans, House of Marley, Inkel/Sherwood, Optoma Nuforce, TCL Communications and TP-Link. Qualcomm has also added some new and interesting players into the supported streaming services that AllPlay can support. After all, Qualcomm does need to partner closely with various streaming partners to ensure that their platform delivers the highest quality music possible. So in addition to the hardware partners, Qualcomm is also announcing that KT Music, QQ Music, Tidal and Sound Cloud have said that they will integrate AllPlay into their streaming music offerings already adding to the 14 streaming music services that have integrated or plan to integrate AllPlay.
The addition of SoundCloud and QQ Music is huge because SoundCloud is without a doubt one of the most frequented streaming platforms on the Internet, especially among artists and those that enjoy creative and original music. Having QQ Music also means that Qualcomm wants to ensure that AllPlay will remain relevant in China and that Chinese OEMs will want to produce AllPlay devices for their own market and not just for export, like TCL.
These announcements are without a doubt very important for Qualcomm and the future of AllPlay as a platform as it has started to become one of the key platforms for directly streaming media. It is very likely that this momentum will continue to snowball after this major CES announcement and as it may enable them to get even more hardware and streaming partners onboard even though they have almost every major streaming service committed. AllPlay already has support for Spotify, Tunein, iHeartRadio, Napster, Rhapsody and many more. Streaming is absolutely the hottest thing in music and movies and AllPlay may become the de facto standard purely because of its own maturity and the timing of the media streaming boom.
It will be interesting to see how competitive AllSeen initiatives like the OIC deal with the fact that there’s not a single device out yet on the market that works on OIC. While products will come out that support OIC, AllPlay is taking advantage of their first mover advantage by launching real products today.