Amazon’s new set-top box just might make Apple question where it stands with regards to its “hobby,” the Apple TV.
Apple has often called its set-top box a hobby product, and despite that, it has sold millions of units around the world. Sales remain steady even though Apple hasn’t updated the hardware in nearly two years. The company might not have felt the need to do so, but Amazon’s Fire TV changes things.
It’s priced exactly the same as the Apple TV, $99, but it offers a lot more. It has 41 content partners as opposed to Apple TV’s 31. It’s a bona fide gaming machine with a separate controller and 133 titles, while Apple TV doesn’t even do gaming. Fire TV also features voice control, users can just pick up a remote and say out an actor’s name to find related titles, once again the Apple TV strikes out. The only thing it has working for itself is that its woven into Apple’s ecosystem. Other than that, an objective look at both set-top boxes will definitely compel a lot of people to lean towards the Fire TV simply because it can do so much more for the very same price.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes that now its time for Apple to think of its set-top box as a “focus product line.” He expects an updated Apple TV to launch in the second half of this year, though it’s unclear right now what improvements the company is going to make. Rumor has it that the Apple TV will get a separate App Store with downloadable channels and games, Apple is also reportedly in talks with major networks to put together an internet TV streaming service that will be accessed through its set-top box.
As far as a full-fledged Apple television is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for it in the near future. A recent report attributed comments to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs who called the TV market a “terrible business.” Even if the deceased co-founder’s views don’t hold the company back, it still has to consider the fact that HDTV sales have dipped 10 percent over the past year. Speculation is that Apple might not want to enter the market when its tumbling down.