And a Note About Apple TV – It’s Not Selling Well

Buried toward the end of this morning’s WSJ article on Sony is a short blurb on Apple TV:

Apple’s set-top device called Apple TV, which lets users play music and video from their computer-based iTunes library, has not been selling strongly since it went on sale earlier this year, analysts say.

apple-tv.jpgI had numerous debates with people when Apple TV first launched about how successful it could be. Then and now the biggest argument for Apple TV has always been that it has the potential to become so much more. If you add HD content to iTunes it could be a great HD video machine. If you add a TV tuner and DVR features it could replace your set-top. If you give people a chance to pay a premium for no DRM, it could transform the video purchasing experience.

Unfortunately, each “if” is fraught with complications. The content companies are fiercely protective of their content and only want to work with Apple on their own terms. This goes double where HD video is concerned given fears of piracy and lost revenue. As for consumers, they (we) want access to content they’re used to getting from their cable, satellite or telecom company, and that means dealing with CableCARDs or some other workaround technology. No simple task.

Could Apple still come out on top? Maybe. But more than anything I’m struck by Apple’s silence on its Apple TV strategy. Yes, Apple is known for being tight-lipped, but in my experience, when a company isn’t saying much, it’s because there are still a lot of issues behind the scenes. I’m guessing that for now Apple is basking in the continued triumph of iPods and the glorious new iPhone. (We’ll see after tomorrow’s Apple event.) A lot of companies would be thrilled to have something so successful to fall back on.

9 thoughts on “And a Note About Apple TV – It’s Not Selling Well”

  1. Yeah, it always seemed to me to be one of those “Hey that’s kinda cool, but what am I going to do with it?”

    I love all things Apple, but this doesn’t do anything that my already existing devices (TiVos) don’t already do better.

  2. Ha, or if it worked on my 4:3 tv I could actually buy one! I think that might be the biggest weakness, no one I know wants to buy an HDTV yet, so no one can use an apple tv.

  3. Being a long-time Windows code monkey and guru I almost hate to admit this; but, here it goes…

    I Love my iPhone and my Apple TV. I bought the Apple TV just two weeks after investing in the iPhone (and no, I didn’t wait in line for mine). The Apple TV has been a great pleasure to use, easy, intuitive, just like my iPhone.

    I think people just expect too much from it… so why would/should you buy one? Here is what it does for me:

    – Keeps a useful ‘backup’ copy of all my 20+ gigs of personal pictures and video of my two daughters. Places that content on my TV in the living room so my immediate family as well as visiting relatives can enjoy it.

    – At $25 per season I purchased several of my kid’s favorite Disney shows so they can watch them on-demand. The added bonus is they can stop it and go to bed without telling me to record it on my Tivo. (my 4 & 7 year old kids love the thing)

    – Background music can be very enjoyable for an evening at home without the TV. I throw up the Apple TV, start up some music, and let the slide-show of kids take over.

    – YouTube – This is the single best YouTube experience hands down.

    After that lengthly display of it does do well, what should it improve?

    – Buy and download TV programs and music through a special iTunes interface right on the device (why they didn’t do this to begin with is beyond me.)

    – Allow hi-def video in more formats WITH 5.1 surround (dua Apple).

  4. Why haven’t Tivo and Apple made a deal yet? I would gladly purchase content from them if it was available on my Tivo. I know Apple is a closed market (own hardware and software), so maybe they can just buy them out. It would definitely challenge MS in the living room. Idle dream, I know.

  5. I think before, but I am not going to make excuses for how great or lame Apple TV is, that’s Mr. Jobs job.

    After being told that you can connect your Apple TV to your Sling box, select “audio only” then listen to all your music on your phone, I almost bought one…Then I remembered there is no Sling Mobile client for my RAZR. Oh Well :(
    ( Currently experimenting with MythTV and OpenMoko phone for the same results)

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