Apple TV sales Triple. Why ?

by editor @ on February 5, 2009

Apple TVIn those difficult days, full of lay-off, profit warnings and other depressing news,  learning that a product has increased sales by 300% in Q4, is big news.

Apple TV sales were up over 3 time vs the year-ago quarter.

Some examples:

All those news, focused on what’s next for Apple TV, most of them forecasting cable box support for Apple TV.

Personally, after the huge success of the iPhone App Store, I think next move will be App Store for the Apple TV.

What I think is more interesting is why now sales of Apple TV has tripled ?
Is because people plan to stay more at home, watching more films and going out less… ?

Some people think it’s because of Boxee!

What do you think ?

  • IHMO it’s certainly related to Boxee/XBMC. Those softwares change considerably what you can do with appletv.

    But Apple, please read this.

    AppleTV is a great product but it fails MISERABLY to play full hd or even good HD (720p) content.

    Do this:

    * ADD NVIDIA ION, 9400M, for full HD support;
    * make an open SDK for developers like Boxee and XBMC;

    And it will sell like the iPods…

    Just my 2 cents.. 🙂

  • Mr D

    I know 5 people who have bought one just due to XBMC now working on it

  • davilla

    xbmc dev/atvusb-creator author here;

    Just about a quarter ago, that’s about when when xbmc/boxee on the AppleTV was released (October 1, 2008). Downloads quickly skyrocketed to over 100k. User feedback indicates that many bought an AppleTV just to run XBMC or Boxee.

    That’s pretty solid to me that the 3X increase in AppleTV units was NOT due to anything Apple did but the result of 3rd party AppleTV developers being functionality that was missing on the AppleTV.

    They really need to open it up with a official SDK and let the platform grow.

  • Tuxster

    I already had an Apple TV, but my usage has significantly increased since I’ve installed XBMC on it (I don’t care much for Boxee so far, even though I initially tried the hack for the purposes of Boxee).

    When I bought the Apple TV, I was looking for something that could play my media files, but also had a pleasant user interface. Most boxes are powerful enough, but with horrible UI that doesn’t pass the “wife” factor.

    Apple TV and XBMC were the only real candidates. I did not want to search for an old Xbox knowing that there would be no future for it. So, I went for the Apple TV with the knowledge that it was being hacked to allow alternate formats.

    Now that there is XBMC, I can play any file on it that I want. It ended up being a great purchase. I am not surprised the sales tripled.

  • greyspace

    XBMC and Boxee are unquestionably great additions, but I doubt they contribute even a majority of the sales increase.

    Two of the articles seem to disagree whether the triple increase is specifically Q4 y-o-y or y-o-y sales through Q4. Either way, rumors of a “new” Apple TV being introduced at the upcoming MacWorld had to put a big damper in Q4 ’07 sales. Since then, Take 2 brought HD movie content while the HD format war scared buyers right out of physical media. YouTube, in all its pixelated glory, came with it. The Remote app garnered a lot of attention for iPhone users. Q4 ’08 also saw, finally!, HD television content. I’d be willing to bet that at least 4 out of every 5 new buyers were aware of all of this versus the desire to hack their box for a beta app.

  • davilla

    Here’s the quote;

    Tim Cook

    “There was a tremendous pickup year-over-year. In fact Apple TV unit sales were up almost three times versus the year ago quarter. However, let me be clear. We still consider this a hobby. However it is clear that the movie rental business has really helped Apple TV and there are more and more customers that want to try it. And we”re going to continue to invest in it, because we fundamentally believe there is something there for us in the future.”

    unit sales were up almost three time verse the year ago quarter.

    That mean if they sold N units last year 4th quarter, this years 4th quarter sold almost 3N as many.

  • greyspace

    I would interpret Tim Cook’s quote the same way, although AppleInsider seems to read it differently, “with sales rising threefold over the past year, according to acting chief executive Tim Cook.”.

    It’s too bad Apple doesn’t release hard numbers consistently for Apple TV. I would love to see if Q4 ’07 was particularly soft due to rumors of the new one. I held off for that reason. I guess the price break made me not feel not *as* foolish after waiting for nothing.

  • Dale

    It wouldn’t account for a 200% sales increase, but if it’s anything like my experience, word of mouth on the AppleTV, although slow to spread, has got to be selling some units.

    My family has two of them, and we love them. I have a 4 and 7 year old, and they love that all of their movies and TV shows are easily accessible, plus all the physical (and easily destroyable) media is no longer clogging up shelf space (all ripped and exported into into iTunes or bought on iTunes).

    We have a seperate unit for the TV my wife and I watch with The Office, 30 Rock, R rated movies etc.

    Every time we have people over, we show them the Apple TV set up, and I would bet we have personally sold at least 10 of them. Every single perosn we have convinced to get one has probably sold a few themselves.

    It’s a great, underrarted product.

  • davilla you know for a fact that an SDK would not change a thing, apple would NEVER condone 90% of the plugins that have made the appletv more than an expensive paperweight, if their totalitarian control of the iPhone app store is any indicator they wouldn’t be any more open minded or reasonable with an appletv store.

  • davilla

    Yes, but an official SDK would certainly make AppleTV development much less stressful on the 3rd party devs. As for as keeping non-certified apps off the AppleTV, we see how well that works with jailbreaks on the iPhone platform. And the iPhone 3rd party devs had a much harder time getting into the hardware.

    I’ve been developing for Apple products for more than 20 years, their control of the iPhone app store is nothing new. I really don’t have a problem with how they are handling it and besides, where else can a independent dev make an obscene amount of money with very little investment.

  • I wonder if AppleTV is popular with families precisely because it does NOT have a convenient pop-tart slot… (grin)

    I love my AppleTV, though I would happily upgrade to a newer one now with more 5.1 / 7.1 audio support – perhaps AAC 5.1 decoding to 5.1 pre-outs that I can feed to my 5.1 inputs on my amp; and BOTH better HDTV support and downgrade to 480i over composite so I can view on a second TV in another room.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think the current AppleTV is good enough hardware for most families; well – perhaps with stronger HD support (true 1080p) – and only needs some small software tweeks (Boxee and CouchSurfer built in, damnit).

    I just think there is room in the market for a more upscale model for those with a home theatre room and additional rooms for plain viewing.

  • While it may make our lives less stressful as 3rd party devs, in the end NONE of our plugins would be accepted, Apple would NEVER allow perian on there, Sapphire and ATVFiles both need perian to be useful so those are out the window, my plugin enable’s usb in addition to launching mplayer or other apps, they would never allow that. Boxee and XBMC launch outside applications, same thing, apple would never allow it. That leaves Couch Surfer, Road Trip and Skype (that i can think of offhand) I wouldnt be surprised if for one reason or another those would get the axe, i really dont see a benefit to an apple sanctioned sdk, none of us would have use for it because there would probably be restrictions from preventing us to do what we want or anything that is useful.

    Regarding the iPhone policy, I 100% disagree with our inability to market directly to the community and sell apps on our own without the store. Lets flip it around, what if all macintosh applications were relegated to an itunes application store? would that be justified? absolutely not, there is NO reason it should be considered justifiable for the store. In addition the tome of limitations is like 100 pages and gets longer every day, apple can just arbitrarily decide that even if the app is within their absurd restrictions they can still give it the axe for NO reason. Yes the app store provides great opportunity to make wads of cash but that doesnt justify the stringent restrictions you have to adhere to to get those options.

    Last but not least, its well known that any ipa can be cracked pretty easily, that takes the piracy control out of the developers hand and puts it in apples hand, where they have miserably dropped the ball. In comes ripdev (who doesnt make any good jailbreak apps, so i wouldnt trust them) to try and take more money out of the devs pocket for a flimsy promise to prevent piracy, this would NEVER be necessary or possible for ripdev to do if the devs retained the ability to market their applications on their own.

  • davilla

    Nito, I guess we can agree to disagree 🙂

  • My $.02, as someone who owns an Apple TV, bought one for his girlfriend, and is considering purchasing a second one for myself:

    Apple needs to do a few things to make this device more successful/mainstream.

    First, increase the hard drive space. I can almost guarantee that will be part of the new ATV. That’s going to require an internal change to SATA, so that means a \new\ device that won’t have the same \guts\ as the old one. Prepare yourselves for an upgrade that we can’t have on our \old\ ATVs.

    Second, and this is going to require Apple \get in bed\ with some of their competitors, such as TIVO, Netflix, Amazon Unbox, etc., and pressure the studios to come off of the ridiculous rental model they’re pushing. The 30 day rental policy (while still not ideal) is something I can live with for now. But this crap of having to finish a movie within 24 hours of starting it is total BS. I think a modified version of the Netflix model will be what’s needed here. Pay a subscription, and you can have X number of movies per month. You can keep them and watch them all you want, but you can only have so many out at a time. Once you remove one or some from your device, you can download more. If the piracy paranoids at the studios think about this with some objectivity (Yeah, I know. Big stretch.) they would realize that they should make even more money. Think about it. How many of us have unlimited rentals from Netflix that we’ve paid nearly $20 a month for, only to let the same three movies sit on our counter for three weeks some months because we don’t have time to watch them?

    A better, more reliable download experience from the ATV store. I have been embarrassed too many times when I’ve gushed to my friends about the virtues of the ATV, only to have such things as movie trailers take forever to start, or stop to buffer in the middle of the run while showing it to them. Apple, it’s time to make the back end \ready for prime time.\

    Some other nice wish list items: External storage. A blue ray/DVD slot. Maybe a tuner card. Which, of course would beg the question, can this thing fly as a DVR? Oh, and how about coating the top with teflon, and putting rim around the edge? That way I can cook an egg while I’m watching TV 🙂

  • MikeyG

    I just got an Apple TV and Boxee is why I got it. I have yet to buy any content for it via iTunes, I have been enjoying content I already own but was not usable thru iTunes (for example DVD iso’s) as well as stuff like Hulu.

  • Todd

    Erm, actually… Apple has said a number of times that the AppleTV is ours to do with as we like, they don’t care if other software is placed on it.

    The issues on the iPhone have much more to do with it being a new mobile platform and its being plugged into the cell phone network.

  • Apple has done a crummy job with AppleTV. Hackers, tinkerers and engineers have saved this product. If Apple thinks otherwise, let me know what universe they are in. Boxee and XBMC have been a big part of this increase in sales (via word of mouth). Not to say that nito and others are also helping.

    This could be a great product. I like the slimmed down Unix on it. Can’t wait till the the drive is solid state. (My has the annoying disk click – I’m going to have to return it).

    Apple management needs to be more helpful and clear up the Hulu issue. As far as charging for content, this device gives Apple a controlled advertising channel to convince the rest of America to stop paying for Gates.

  • vidman

    i had a ATV with ATVflash. it is confusing, it has to be easy for just anyone to use but the stock AppleTv menu is. Do i want the ability to play DVD (.iso) yes, 1080p yes, a browser yes (controlled via iphone keyboard) but it has to have the simple and clean interface that ATV 2.3 has. No offense, but I don’t see the reason why you all like xbmc so much. i don’t remember if i was able to get Boxee to work but i am not interested in those hacks anymore. too much work and time. show me what i am missing with some screenshots but i found xbmc crappy. Also, I don’t care about hdd size, i stream off of a 2 gb raid 5 NAS. Large video libraries will never fit on the device never mind it missing the redundancy of a simple raid like Synology has.

    Features i would like to the most are:
    1. DVD .iso and avi playback support (or DVD import software – grow up Hollywood this is inevitable)
    2. Wifi to InfraRed output (volume control for amplifier – whole house audio via iphone / touch)
    3. Instant access to new DVD releases
    4. PVR (a stretch but i would like an Apple version of SageTV)
    5. 1080p (really do i need it NO, but there is not doubt that this capability shoudl be there)

    Gotta run, thats all for now.

  • we’ve paid nearly $20 a month for, only to let the same three movies sit on our counter for three weeks some months because we don’t have time to watch them?

  • Gubes

    The key to make Apple TV successful has little to do with the hardware and ALL to do with software and content. Only suggestion for hardware (which is more of a software issue) is allow the USB port to be used to connect additional storage devices. I’d rather do this without a hack.

    Things I would like to see (would require movie studio support):

    1) Movies to be available at the same time of their DVD release for both purchase and Rent.

    2) More variability in pricing at the lower end – i.e very old movies that are seldomn bought or rented should go for like $0.99.

    3) Rentals – 1 month to to finish once you started watching i think is fair. Also a subscription model should also be presented as an option.

    4) TV channel subscription which leads to on-demand viewing of their content with commercials.

    There are several ways in which people want to pay for media. Apple should provide them with choice. Also, the cost of purchasing movies is ridiculous. You can buy a DVD for less than $15, why should the studios charge the same on-line? If the movie studio sells a DVD for $15 at the store, they are only getting $5-7 tops after they give room for wholesalers and retailers to make their margin – not to mention the risk of holding inventory and the cost of manufacturing the physical media. They should charge $5.99 for library and $6.99 for new releases and add $1-2 to have it in HD – without DRM. Rentals should cost 1.99 for library and 2.99 for new release and $1 more in HD. The margins the studios make on that would be the same as on DVD sales – and their sales would go through the roof!

    The studios should start to see the internet as an opportunity rather than a threat. You are cutting the middle men out of the equation and if you pass on those savings to the consumer, they will buy more movies and content – while you make the same money on each title. I just don’t get it.

  • Duncan

    For the right price, I would be willing to pay for a modification that allows movies to loop indefinitely AND would allow the Apple TV to be managed over a WAN.

  • Tony

    I just bought mine. Saw a friend’s with BOXEE, and that allowed me to make the jump into buying it.

  • Kurt

    So they sold 30 instead of 10?

  • papampi

    I just bought 2 ATVs for me, and my friend and ainstalled boxee/xbmc on em!!!!

    please release the source code !!!!!

  • does that movie with the apple logo happen every time u start up the apple tv console? it looks cool! plz reply!

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