Monday, Sep 20, 2021, 19:57 Apple TV

15 Years of Apple TV - But The Platform Has Outlived its Usefulness

Initial forecasts of the Apple TV's expected sales success were euphoric. The device, initially presented under the working title "iTV," had the potential to become a more important market than the Mac and iPod - at least that was the view of many industry experts in September 2006. Apple presented the iTV for the first time at a press event, but it was still some time before it went on sale. "The announcement at the time was for the first quarter of 2007. The price for the set top box was initially $299 (40 GB storage capacity) or $399 (160 GB). An adapted version of Mac OS X 10.4 was used as the operating system. Remember: At the time of the presentation, there was no iPhone yet; instead, the iPod had become Apple's best-selling product.

The oft-cited "hobby".
Very quickly, however, it became apparent that customers were very hesitant to reach for this entirely new Apple product. The first generation of the Apple TV was even spurned to such an extent that Steve Jobs was heard to say that the device represented more of a "hobby" for Apple. With the Apple TV 2, Apple therefore fundamentally changed the concept. Instead of a large aluminum case and a lot of memory, the Apple TV was from then on just a small black box, whose price also dropped massively. Apple also built in very little internal memory, which was designed entirely for streaming. The device, which has been available since September 2010, sold significantly better than the first generation - but it was still not a blockbuster.

Apple TV 3 - sales are on the rise
Despite low sales figures, Apple did not give up on the device and in the fall of 2012 presented the third generation in an unchanged, black housing. Much changed in the system interface, and the Apple TV 3 also supported resolutions of up to 1080p. A look at the quarterly results showed that the Apple TV was slowly becoming a stable revenue driver. Tim Cook commented on the sales by saying that it was now becoming increasingly difficult to still call the Apple TV a "hobby". In 2013, Apple exceeded the mark of ten million devices per year for the first time.

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Apple TV 4 and tvOS
With the Apple TV 4 (2015, officially: "Apple TV HD"), Apple had actually set its sights on much more and wanted to include the content of all major TV stations as a subscription. However, the negotiations failed, which is why the Apple TV 4 primarily brought major innovations to the system as well as the Siri remote control. At first glance, the design of the casing has not changed, only with a tape measure can differences be determined. The operating system also received a new name and has been called "tvOS" since 2015. For the first time, third-party providers were given the opportunity to develop apps for the Apple TV and sell them on the device via the App Store. However, the app revolution failed to materialize, and hardly anyone was particularly interested in the app sales.



The current market situation
In the past two years, the topic of "Apple TV+" had a much higher priority for Apple than the actual hardware. The strategy has changed, because Apple's focus on services in this case includes wanting to bring the streaming offering to as many platforms as possible. If the goal in earlier years would have been to make the Apple TV more attractive through additional content, things look quite different now. Hardly any market observers attest Apple's TV box a particularly rosy future. According to Mark Gurman, the next big step could rather be the unification of Apple TV and HomePod including display into a new type of product.

However, it seems unlikely that Apple will invest much energy in future generations of the Apple TV. Even though it looked like Apple could actually become an important provider for streaming hardware in the meantime, this seems very unlikely on the one hand and hardly desirable on the other hand. Apple missed the topic "smart home", the "digital living room" is dominated by Echo and Alexa, and there are cheap dongles or apps for streaming on the smart TV.

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