We sort of saw the writing on the wall, but now Belkin has went and made it official: the FlyWire is dead. Originally showcased at CES 2008 and at practically every AV-related trade show since, the wireless HD-enabling FlyWire was seen as the poster child for wireless HD / HDMI by many, and the death of this product certainly doesn't bode well for the technology as a whole. It's true that AMIMON -- the wireless startup responsible for the WHDI technology within the FlyWire and a few other devices -- just landed an extra $10 million in VC funding, but still, we've literally been waiting years for this so-called "promising technology" to get a foothold in the market. Or even make a wave, really.
As has become customary these days, Belkin is also pinning the cancellation of the FlyWire on the economy, with a spokesperson telling us that the "retail price of $1,499 would be out of line given the current state of the economy." She continued by stating that the company has "opted to halt production of FlyWire" and "will no longer be introducing [it] to the market." Granted, the company does seem somewhat apologetic, concluding that "there will be some disappointed folks out there, but [Belkin's] end goal is to introduce products that are accessible and that make sense in the current environment."
Frankly, we're not buying it. In April, Belkin affirmed to us that while AMIMON's WDHI technology was "solid," it was taking its sweet time in order to "pay very close attention to the user experience, such as the packaging, setup, and the quick install guide." We could be way off base here, but we'd say the economy was sucking quite a bit harder in April than it is today. And honestly, that's beside the point. A $1,500 device that enabled a Blu-ray player to communicate wirelessly with an HDTV is obviously a luxury item, and regardless of unemployment numbers, Belkin had to know that the FlyWire would only appeal to upscale consumers. You know, the same folks who also put in an order for a Ferrari California in 1H 2009 while their hedge fund dived.
To us, the sudden death of the FlyWire is more of an industry signal than anything. For quite some while, we've been wondering when the industry at large would embrace wireless HD and HDMI technology, and now we're beginning to think that said embrace will never happen in any significant capacity. Even Wireless USB couldn't cut it, and we're guessing there are an awful lot more USB users out there than HDMI. If the price dropped dramatically and the sector consolidated a bit in order to agree on a single standard, we'd say wireless HD / HDMI has a fighting chance. 'Til that happens, you can pretty much bank on the FlyWire fiasco becoming a model for the rest. Belkin's statement in full is past the break.
Belkin's official statement on the death of the FlyWire:
Last year, Belkin announced FlyWire™, a wireless HD transmitter that delivers high-definition video and audio wirelessly to any TV, anywhere in your home. We realize that its retail price of $1499 would be out of line given the current state of the economy. With that in mind, we've opted to halt production of FlyWire. We will no longer be introducing FlyWire to the market at this time. We know there will be some disappointed folks out there, but our end goal is to introduce products that are accessible and that make sense in the current environment.