While it's not clear if the dongle got past the brainstorming phase, it would make sense for Apple to explore new, cheaper ways to distribute its content. Apple TV has been losing ground in the streaming device competition in recent years and is down to just 15 percent of the market share according to research from Parks Associates. Devices from the likes of Google, Amazon and Roku are available for between $25 and $50. Apple has nothing in that range. The company has also reportedly explored the possibility of launching an app for smart TVs that would make its original content available.
Even if Apple ditches the dongle before it begins, it's got to find some new ways to get the Apple TV platform -- not the physical product -- to more people. The company is reportedly investing more than one billion dollars on original programming, including a production deal with Oprah Winfrey. The content will be available on Apple devices including iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, but the company will want to reach outside of its existing ecosystem with its streaming content.