But it still doesn’t seem like a must-have gadget hit. And with a tiny price tag, it’s not the company’s next big growth driver.
As before, Apple TV is focused mostly on watching movies, TV shows, and pictures, and listening to some audio. That’s what people want from Apple TV, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
It still does not include games, a web browser, or third-party apps. And it might not anytime soon: Jobs specifically said that consumers don’t want a computer in their living room. They just want Hollywood movies and TV shows.
By far the biggest improvement is its price point: Apple TV will now cost $99, down from $229 or more.
But as before, it may not be useful or disruptive enough to force people to buy Apple TV instead of competing devices.
Most of its features are going to be available on the Xbox and PlayStation, if they aren’t already. A lot of new TVs are getting Netflix streaming and Flickr photo slideshows built right in, plus plenty more features. And with new $0.99 TV-show rentals from just two broadcast networks, Fox and ABC, it’s hardly a cable killer.
So what is special about the Apple TV? Why does Apple bother?
One cool new feature that could help is coming later this year: “AirPlay,” which will let you stream movies from your computer or iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) to your Apple TV.
This could allow you to start watching a movie on your iPad and finish watching it on your TV. Or as Jobs noted, you could take a bunch of pictures on your iPhone, and then stream a slideshow to your TV. We’d love if this worked in any iOS app that supports video, and not just iTunes.
If AirPlay is as cool as it sounds, it could finally be a reason to have both an iPad/iPhone and an Apple TV. And that’s Apple’s real opportunity for Apple TV to drive significant revenue growth.
At its new $99 price point, Apple TV is now cheap enough to be considered an impulse purchase. But it’s going to be hard for Apple to make much money just selling a niche device for $99. Especially as a $60+ billion company. But if Apple TV and AirPlay can turn millions of $99 Apple TV purchases into millions of $600 Apple TV + iPad purchase, now we’re talking.
In general, though, Apple TV still seems pretty boring to us. Maybe that simplicity will actually sell. But for now, we’re keeping expectations low.