A weekend feature from Gizmodo's Brian Barrett explores the Apple TV's increasing importance with the recent addition of Hulu Plus and other features. The interesting part of the article is the numbers: 1.3 million Apple TV units sold in the previous quarter along with US$2 billion in sales of digital content from the App Store, iTunes and iBookstore.
Barrett thinks this information shows that the Apple TV has become the company's most important product, and future dominance rests with the little Apple TV box rather than a dedicated television set.
Forbes agrees with Barrett's stance, wondering if the Apple TV has become a legitimate platform rather than the hobby Steve Jobs tinkered with. I think it'll achieve this status when an Apple TV SDK comes out. It was something I hoped would happen at WWDC, but now I'm wondering if that might come out this fall with the expected slate of new iPhones and iPods.
I disagree with the Forbes estimate that Apple will eventually allow its content to be licensed on premium TVs. That's not the way Apple runs things, and it's why I think the Apple TV's price is $99. If you're picking up a new TV, another $99 isn't going to matter in the long run if you're using the Apple TV constantly.
Yes, Hulu Plus and the Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad are competitors to Apple's content, but you're still using Apple's hardware to view said content. Chances are, if you're using an iPad to watch Amazon Instant Video, you're likely to upgrade to another iPad somewhere down the road. Amazon gets your money, and so does Apple.
Over time, as features are added, I've noticed that the Apple TV has become more important in my living room. At first, I wasn't using it much. Then came AirPlay and Netflix. Then came AirParrot. Now there's AirPlay Mirroring and Hulu Plus. The only thing it's missing is Plex. We're still using the PS3 to access Plex content. Oh, and BBC iPlayer, but I think there's a chance of pigs flying before getting it in the U.S. There's an excellent jailbreak community surrounding the Apple TV, but the hassle to unjailbreak the ATV to upgrade it was just too much to bother jailbreaking it again.
But with the recent new features, anything I can pull up on one of my Macs can be sent to the Apple TV. I can use HippoRemote to control the Mac streaming the content. We're to the point that we happily dropped cable early this year and haven't looked back. It's so convenient that whenever we get a new TV, I know I'll grab another Apple TV to go along with it -- and that's exactly what Apple wants.