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Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

SlingPlayer for iPhone to sell for $30 and support WiFi only

Apple sometime in the next 24 hours will release Sling Media's highly anticipated SlingPlayer application for the iPhone onto its App Store but the software will arrive without 3G wireless support, AppleInsider has been able to confirm.

Formally announced at January's Macworld Expo, the SlingPlayer Mobile application promised to allow iPhone users to stream live television over WiFi or 3G wireless networks by tapping into home TV setups equipped with a Slingbox. A built-in remote control function would reportedly allow for channel surfing and DVR setup.

Sling Media submitted the application to the App Store nearly six weeks ago but it has thus far failed to see approval amid rumors that AT&T had asked Apple to deny the software in its original form because the carrier was concerned about the app's potential to saturate its 3G network.

Those rumors appear to have been true. AppleInsider spoke to SlingMedia on Tuesday and confirmed that Apple will push the application onto the App Store sometime between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 am eastern time tomorrow. However, it won't be the version of the application originally submitted with support for 3G and EDGE streaming.

Instead, the version Apple approved is WiFi-only. It will sell for $29.99 in the US and Canada, and 17.99 British pounds overseas. Officially, the application will support the SlingBox PRO, SOLO, and PRO-HD. Legacy Slingboxes, which include the Classic, AV, and TUNER, will also work with the app but Sling Media won't provide any service for technical problems with these products, including problems caused by updates to SlingPlayer Mobile software, Slingbox hardware, or iPhone firmware.

Sling Media's concession to release its iPhone app as WiFi-only is surprising given that a version of SlingPlayer runs on several other AT&T devices over 3G like the BlackBerry Bold. With a $30 price tag and a WiFi-only limitation, it will be interesting to see how well the application fares in its first week on the App Store, especially since its lack of wireless network access is likely to curb its appeal, forcing users to find a hotspot before streaming video.

Some have theorized that AT&T's motives for asking Apple to deny a 3G capable version of the application may be more closely tied to the carrier's plan to launch a similar 3G service than any potential concerns over network saturation. The AT&T service would reportedly allow iPhone users to steer video recorders for its U-verse digital TV offering from their handsets.



AppleInsider has been testing SlingPlayer for the iPhone for the past several weeks and will publish a full review shortly after the application becomes available.