Apple executives seem to have a thing for referring to the Apple TV as nothing more than an interesting hobby. That little hobby, however, seems to be attracting more and more users with each passing quarter.
During Apple's 2012 holiday quarter, for example, the company sold more than 2 million Apple TV units, representing a nearly 43% sales increase compared to the 2011 holiday quarter. Cumulatively, Tim Cook revealed during this year's All Things D conference that Apple has, to-date, sold over 13 million Apple TV units. Even more impressive is that Cook noted that "about half of those" sales took place in 2013.
Suffice it to say, Apple TV may still only be a hobby in Apple's eyes, but sales of the device seem to accelerating with each passing year.
That said, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the Apple TV, in 2012, commanded a 56.1% share of the market with respect to dedicated streaming devices. The data comes courtesy of a report put together by the market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Trailing Apple in second place is Roku with a 21.5% share, with TiVo bringing up the rear with a 6.5% share.
Interestingly enough, Frost and Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn attributes the popularity of the Apple TV to the desire of folks to stream content to their HDTV via AirPlay.
Apple accounts for the majority of sales by far, despite offering relatively narrow content access – this is not (yet) a market being driven by the value proposition of a streaming TV experience. AppleTV's AirPlay feature was strategically crafted to simplify the process of transferring laptop and tablet displays to a TV screen, and it is AirPlaying – not OTT streaming – that is the primary reason for purchase of AppleTV devices. Roku is the second largest vendor in this space and is driving growth through a strong lineup of content as well as through a series of agreements with Pay TV vendors such as Time Warner Cable. The long-term potential for this segment does remain uncertain. It is important to note that while current growth rates are high, the total installed base of $99 streaming boxes is quite low.
Highlighting the room for growth for streaming devices, or perhaps the challenge faced by manufacturers, Rayburn notes that only two companies - Apple and Roku - have been able to ship over 1 million dedicated streaming devices in a lone year.
As a final point, it's worth noting that the above data excludes devices like Microsoft's Xbox and the Sony PlayStation because, while they do offer streaming capabilities, they are first and foremost gaming consoles. If they were included, their sales figures would easily eclipse those of the Apple TV.