Apple is reporting 1 million Apple TV units sold in the device's first two-and-a-half months of release. Apple TV is competing with Google TV for the digital living room.
Not to be outdone by its rivals in the consumer-electronics segment, Apple
reported Dec. 21 that it expects sales of its Apple TV to exceed 1 million
units this week. It took the company a little more than two-and-a-half months
to reach that milestone.
Apple could have timed the announcement to dig at arch-rival Google, whose
Google TV is encountering delays. According to
a Dec. 20 article in The New York Times, Google partners Toshiba,
Sharp and LG have postponed their rollout of new Google TV sets and companion
boxes, originally scheduled for January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas, at Google's request.
Google TV offers users the ability to both surf the Web and tune into
traditional TV broadcasts via the same living-room setup. Sony televisions with
Google TV retail for between $600 and $1,400, while an offering from Logitech
costs $300. Despite that significant price, however, early critics complained
that Google TV had kinks in its user interface. Adding a bit of insult to
injury, the major television networks blocked Google TV from accessing their
Websites, denying users the ability to stream popular shows over the Web.
Apple has also wrestled with the networks over porting network content onto Apple TV. At the device's September unveiling, Apple CEO
Steve Jobs announced that only Fox and ABC
had signed up to offer content, although he voiced the hope that others would
"It's never been a huge hit," he said, describing Apple TV. "Neither
has any competitive product."
The current Apple TV, which launched at the beginning of October, fits into
the palm of a hand and includes an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) connector,
Ethernet and WiFi. Apple offers streaming rentals, including 99-cent TV shows
and $4.99 HD movies the same day the latter appear on DVD.
Although Apple COO Tim Cook once famously
referred to Apple TV as the company's "hobby," Apple nonetheless
seems determined to aggressively push this newest version-if only to blunt,
perhaps, Google's own intentions in that market segment.
Jobs used that September presentation to draw contrasts between Apple TV and
other companies' attempts to sync multimedia content between a home's multiple
screens. "They don't want a computer on their TV," he said, referring
to consumers. "This is a hard one for people in the computer industry to
understand." Features such as syncing between a television and secondary
devices such as a smartphone or laptop, he continued, were "too
complicated" for most users.
Taking his criticisms one step further, Jobs swiped at YouTube and its
millions of homemade clips. "They want Hollywood
movies and TV shows whenever they want them," he said. "They don't
want amateur hour." Presumably, that was also a dig against Google, which
Apple will likely use that 1-million-sales figure to tout how it's winning
the war for the digital living room. But as Google's Consumer Electronics Show-related
drama has shown, the market segment is still very much in its early growth
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.