Awaiting Apple's iOS — Update

Apple Store
Flickr: hairygrumpy
Apple Store

Apple’s iOS 4.2 is due later this month. Some expected it as soon as today, but doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

While there are a number of goodies in it – it brings wireless printing to Apple gadgets, and folder organization to the iPad for the first time – the big deal here is a tie to the TV – Apple TV, to be precise.

Steve Jobs demonstrated this in September. The headlining feature is called AirPlay, and it lets iPhones, iPads and iPod touches stream music, video or photos to a $99 Apple TV. So your iPhone and iPad become like a remote control for your digital life.

Looking at the numbers, this means owners of a good number of the roughly 150 million iOS devices out there will have incentive to buy AppleTV for Christmas. At 99 bucks each that’s not going to change Apple’s revenue and earnings picture dramatically, even if Apple sells a couple million Apple TVs in a month. I mean, $200 million isn’t bad, but Apple just turned in a $20 billion quarter. So that’s just 1%, and a lower-margin 1%.

But what iOS 4.2 will do, potentially, is strengthen Apple’s hand against Google TV, which similarly seeks to plug your flat screen in to your digital content.

Google is turning phones that run its Android software into remote controls for Google TV.

So. This update might help determine whether Apple or Google gets the upper hand this holiday season in the latest fight to bring Internet content to the flat-screen TV. And that could determine whether these consumer tech names get the growth they want in 2011.