Apple and the importance of accessorizing

Streaming Video For most who followed Apple’s announcements today, the big news would have been the new lighter, thinner, faster version of the iPad, the latest iteration of iOS (iOS 4.3), which adds some features like local music sharing between devices on a home network, and of course the appearance on stage of a game, if painfully gaunt, Steve Jobs. For the studios and premium TV networks, however, the real news was something literally just tossed in.

That would be the $39 1080p HDMI output dongle for the iPad 2 (dongle sold separately of course). From the perspective of high-value video content, the dongle basically turns any TV with a HDMI port into an Apple TV. With the dongle, an iPad 2 owner can download or stream copy-protected video to the tablet via iTunes or other app and display it on their big-screen TV, even if the user does not have an Apple TV set-top box.

Given how fast iPads are selling, that could turn out to be a major development in the over-the-top video space. The premium content can be delivered to the iPad 2 wirelessly, untouched by Comcast or other cable ISP, and displayed on the TV, just as it would with an Apple TV STB, a Roku box or Boxee.

Should sufficient wireless bandwidth someday become available to support it, I think Apple just laid the technological predicate to turn the iPad into a wireless, portable virtual pay-TV system.