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SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone. What's the deal?

Rarely has an iPhone/iPod touch app seen so many ups and downs.

People have expected Sling Media to provide a version of their streaming video player for Apple since the iPhone first launched, but it has yet to materialize. In January, Sling demonstrated a beta of SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone at Macworld and created a flurry of excitement.

Three weeks ago Sling announced with a great deal of fanfare that the app had been submitted to the App Store, but so far, all we're hearing are crickets...

Earlier this month AT&T changed its published Terms of Service to directly prohibit apps like SlingPlayer Mobile from operating on the AT&T network. After a major meltdown from AT&T customers, all the carrier could say was "whoops, we didn't mean it -- that was a mistake".

Last week, an anonymous tipster with a dubious domain told TUAW that he worked for Apple and stated that the company was going to reject the app because AT&T couldn't support the bandwidth demands. Of course, carriers do support the SlingPlayer on other phones, including the BlackBerry and several Windows Mobile phones.

So, here we are, more than three weeks after SlingPlayer Mobile was submitted to the app store, and there's still nothing. Nada. Bupkis. Zlich. In the meantime, Sling Media has alienated many Slingbox owners by intimating that a lot of their older gear won't work with the iPhone app when (or if) it is released.
Disappointed with the slow rate of progress and the constant stream of rumors, I checked with Sling Media today to get the official word on what was up. Cathy Cook, a spokesperson for the company, says the app was submitted, and that Sling Media and Apple are in regular touch with each other. She says anything else people hear is rumor and conjecture. She added that Sling Media thinks the app is 'solid and a great experience' and they'd like nothing better than to have it in the App Store.

I dashed off another quick email to Ms. Cook asking if Apple had communicated any concerns about the app in the three weeks that it has been in limbo, but I haven't receive a response to that question so far. She did mention in the first email that "We've been told that a two-to-three week wait is common. Some apps may take less time, but it's important to remember that SlingPlayer is far more complex than a typical iPhone app. It makes sense it would take a little extra time to go through this process."

I think it is pretty clear that the 'inside' source at Apple who claimed that the app was rejected was a hoaxer, but it's also clear that Apple is taking a while to evaluate SlingPlayer Mobile before it either passes or fails the App Store testing. With AT&T begging Apple to renew the iPhone partnership for another year, and Apple about to launch new iPhone software (and maybe hardware) in the next few months, all eyes are on AT&T, Apple and Sling. It's a guess as to what will happen next in this little drama, so all you can do is wait for the Sling Media announcement and keep your fingers crossed. If you'd like to hear directly from Sling Media when the app becomes available or is finally turned down, there is now a web page where you can submit your email address to a contact list.

Rarely has an iPhone/iPod touch app seen so many ups and downs. People have expected Sling Media to provide a version of their streaming...