Is the Apple TV a flop?

Is the Apple TV a flop?

Summary: When we think of Apple products, we think of the iPhone, the iPod and the range of Macs that Apple has on offer. An Apple product that doesn't spring to mind is the Apple TV. Did this product flop? And if so, why?

TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

When we think of Apple products, we think of the iPhone, the iPod and the range of Macs that Apple has on offer. An Apple product that doesn't spring to mind is the Apple TV. Did this product flop? And if so, why?

I think that the Apple TV was an interesting idea. A sort of media command center that sits in your living room and connects your TV directly to iTunes. The idea itself sounds like a winner because it makes buying digital content for in-home (and in particular, in-living-room) consumption a snap. Since people are devouring iTunes content on their Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPod touch devices, it's a logical to assume that people would enjoy doing the same from their TVs too.

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This doesn't seem to be the case. While Apple TV has enjoyed limited success, it's not the runaway success that we've come to expect from Apple. Apple TV was more of a Newton than an iPod. A flop? Depends on your definition, but it's no iPod for sure, and neither is it a DVD killer. So what went wrong?

I think it's down to consumers being more confident in buying a computer than they are a bit of kit (like Apple TV, which is a media receiver) than they don't really know what it is. A computer is a known entity to most consumers (how little or much they know varies, but that doesn't matter), but the idea of hooking up something up to a TV and having that connect up to the web is full of unknowns.

I've talked to a number of people who have expressed an interest in getting an Apple TV but most seem put off because they don't really understand what it is and how they set it up (which is odd, because it's really easy to set up). It seems that people fear that the device will be much harder and more complicated to set up than a PC or a games console.

Another issue is that people are still getting used to having games consoles in their living rooms. If you've already got a games console, getting everyone on board with the idea of adding another glowing box to the mix can take a fair bit of persuasion.

I think that the Apple TV device is an interesting idea, and one that's workable, I just think that it came too soon. Technologies such as 802.11n WiFi and even USB 3.0 will make downloading and transferring content to such devices quicker and easier (wireless HDMI would be better still, eliminating all cables but the power cord). SSDs will make such a device quieter and cooler, and of course, these devices will get smaller and smaller. Another feature that would help boost adaption would be games. Given Apple's close relationship with games studios when it comes to iPhone development, I'm surprised that we've not seen Apple TV become a gaming device.

That said, given the success of the iPhone, the continued success of the iPod and macs, and the likely release of a tablet sometime soon, Apple is unlikely to pull the plug on the Apple TV any time soon. Just be away that it's also not likely to do anything revolutionary with it either.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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  • yes

    mainly bacause of the price.
    Linux Geek
    • They could lower the price

      If they put Linux on it because it's free.
      Ron Bergundy
      • haha

        too late...they already run BSD
        • No.. they don't run BSD... And for the record.. they never have.

          OS X 10.0 through 10.4 was based on BSD... Based
          being the key word... As of 10.5 and later.. OS X
          10.5 and later is no longer "BSD based", It is a
          fully certified UNIX OS... OS X is not an open
          source OS and never has been.

          • Maybe you should tell Apple...

            they seem to think their code still contains FreeBSD code even in Snow leopard.

          • Swing and a Miss...

          • Oops...good work. And thank you for the links. nt

          • Ummmm No

            OSX was extended from the NeXT OS which used BSD (actually FreeBSD) Darwin is the OS which is freely available. I've downloaded it several times and used it to load OSX (older versions) on PCs.

            I think the confusion arises from Apple's announcement of a new Kernel for OSX 10.6 using XNU (X is not unix) however, the resulting kernel is a hybrid which uses BSD and Mach kernel.

            A good explanation can be found here (read the Mach paragraph):
          • Darwin, dude

            You don't know what you're talking about. OS X 10.anything is an amalgamation of a Mach microkernel, a BSD kernel & userland utilties running atop the Mach Microkernel, and the Aqua user interface above that. Darwin, the operating system part that encompasses the Mach microkernel, the BSD kernel and userland, and the device drivers, is an open source operating system, you can still see Darwin code drops from Apple.

            The BSD parts of Darwin borrowed heavily from both NetBSD and FreeBSD initially, and exchanges between Apple and FreeBSD in particular have remained constant.
      • Good point

        The sandwich shop by my work uses linux too, and their club sandwich is
        way cheaper than the other sandwich shop that uses windows. Also, I
        rubbed some linux on a boil on my leg yesterday, and today it's gone!
    • It's an Apple-flop...

      ...which is a success by other company's standards. When the technorati talk up Roku as a success with 600K subscribers but say the ATV is a flop with 6 million units sold. You can only come to the conclusion that 'success' in Apple terms requires a 10-fold increase over the norm.

      I recently learned the 11 million Netflix subscribers - most are still getting DVDs posted.

      • I tried Netflix streaming

        On my xbox360. IMHO its ease of use, selection and image quality has been
        vastly overstated. But at under $10 a month this should not be a surprise.

        Agree with the odd standard. Hard to think of many areas where selling that
        many units and turning a profit would be considered a failure.
  • If you have a game console..

    why would you need an Apple TV? At least with a 360 I can stream my music and videos and also rent movies and tv shows. I assume it's similar with the PS3. And with the Wii, oh nevermind.
    • I think Wii will have Netflix soon

      and I could have sworn there were ways of streaming your music (and maybe even movies) using a web browser of some sort. Not as nearly as nice as my 360. The Media Center Extender does an awesome job of virtually everything media related.
      • Indeed

        The wii will very soon have netflix support. the ps3's streaming media is very similar (if not more in depth than) the 360. just more reasons (besides poor marketing) that the apple tv was a miss.
    • The Wii... has BBC iPlayer in the UK, allowing decent quality streaming of BBC TV shows from the last 7-30 days, and some complete series (admittedly this functionality was available for quite some time via the web browser, but it is now a separate channel in the Wii main screen).
    • Exactly.

      If you have a game console the Apple TV is redundant. Then there are the cable and satellite TV companies who are in a much better position to provide this service, and most do to an extent.

      This Apple TV is a complete waste, by the time the idea catches on the competition will steal the show.
  • Its been a "hobbie" project to long.

    It has potential, but I'm wondering if a Boxee box will pass it when it finally shows its face.

    I would suggest it has some positive influence on how other companies have approached their own devices. Even D-Link/Boxee said that they wanted to create a Remote that had the positive qualities of the Mac remote.
  • I have one

    I used it a lot until I got Netflix on my Xbox 360.

    It's a good device, the interface is nice, but it doesn't
    really become what it can be until you put Boxee on it.
    It's a much more capable device at that point.
    • I have one too

      We use it everyday in our main living room for music, movies, renting
      movies, YouTube, Pictures and so on. It works really nicely. But we also
      use our PS3 the same way downstairs, plus it playsDVDs, CDs, BluRay...
      So I wouldn't say Apple TV is a flop, but it's potential hasn't been realized
      yet. I like how anyone's machine can easily find it wirelessly and play their
      content through it.

      I don't regret buying it at's been a lot of fun and enjoyment. Isn't
      that what it's all about?