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The Apple TV, shown here at Macworld 2007, has not been warmly received by the consumer electronics market.  (Source: Apple)
Steve Jobs refuses to shed tears about lack of interest in the device, saying its just a "hobby"

Apple seems to have a Midas touch when it comes to electronics.  Despite its failings during the mid 1990s when it lost the home computer market to the PC, in recent years it has grown into what seems an unstoppable juggernaut, adding runaway commercial successes in the form of its various iPod lines and now its new iPhones.  Even its computer and OS sales have been doing far better lately.

However, recent reports indicate that there may be one ugly duckling in the Apple family of commercial successes.  That product is the Apple TV.

The Apple TV seems like a good idea on paper.  People have lots of media on their computer -- movies, TV shows, music videos and various other multimedia items.  What if they could transport that media easily onto your home TV?  From that idyllic idea evolved the Apple TV, which provides users with a portal to transport your content to the tube.

What seemed a wonderful idea quickly became perhaps Apple's biggest hardware blunder of late.

While no exact sales numbers are available for the Apple TV, which first came out in March, the new device is getting from holiday shoppers, according to analysts, the same reception the device has been getting throughout its brief history -- a bunch of static.

"That category of devices is so nonexistent," said Ross Rubin, an analyst with The NPD Group, one of America's top market research firms.

Apple has done everything it can to avoid the issue of whether the device it once promised would bring a revolution has now fallen on its face.  It will not release sales numbers for the Apple TV units, like it does for its other major products.  It will only release subscription reports, which will include Apple TV sales numbers, every two years.  Steve Jobs even downplayed it at the D: All Things Digital conference, saying it was just a "hobby".

So why has Apple TV, once boldly hailed by Apple, fallen from grace in the eyes of the consumer?

Much of the problems seem to stem from a combination of a small market segment and simple consumer ignorance.  To start, only a certain percentage of users have enough computer content to warrant such a device.

"Video drives the television experience, and while the PC has become the hub for photos and music, they haven't become great storehouses of commercial video," NPD's Rubin said.

And according to another market researcher, Joyce Putscher, an analyst with In-Stat, even customers who have this content are typically unaware that the device exists or are ignorant to how it works.

The other major factor that has led to the device floundering is Apple's insistence on keeping it proprietary.  The device is currently only compatible with free video from YouTube and paid video from iTunes, further cutting down its market base.  By doing this, Apple increased its control over the device as the expense of sales.  With TV studios bringing a wealth of content online, for the first time, Apple's device locks its users out of experiencing these new sources of media.

Users have hacked the device to run Mac OX and interface more openly, but many users are not savvy enough or do not wish to waste the time on exploring such an option.

Another key problem is Apple's refusal to develop a rental or subscription based program to use with the device, perhaps through the iTunes interface.  Steve Jobs ardently has voiced opposition to such ideas, saying the consumer doesn't want them.  But analysts think that part of the device’s failings is due to the fact that customers are used to being able to rent or subscribe to services, instead of having only the option to buy from one restricted source. 

Options and multi-functionality are what drives the high tech consumer, but the Apple TV remains sadly closed and one-dimensional.  For this reason, despite Apple's wild success in other markets, analysts see the Apple TV as nothing more than how Steve Jobs sees it -- as a hobby.

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All your apples belong to us.
By Mitch101 on 11/26/2007 5:12:03 PM , Rating: 5
With a device like this who needs anything else?

Specification :


Windows Media Connect
Windows Media Player NSS
HTTP servers: myiHome, WizD, SwissCenter, MSP Portal
BitTorrent P2P
NAS access : SMB, NFS, FTP
Web services

Video : YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe, VideoCast, DL.TV, Cranky Geeks
Audio : iPodcast, Radiobox, ABC News, Jamendo
Photo : Flickr, Picasa
RSS feed : Yahoo! Weather, Yahoo! Traffic alerts, Yahoo! Stock, Cinecast, Traffic Conditions.
Peer-to-peer TV : SayaTV
Internet Radio : Shoutcast
Media files supported

Video containers:
MPEG1/2/4 Elementary (M1V, M2V, M4V)
MPEG2 Transport Stream (TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M2TS, MTS)
Matroska (MKV)
MOV (H.264), MP4, RMP4
Video codecs:
ASP@L5, 720p, 1-point GMC
Audio containers:
MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA)
Audio codecs:
MP1, MP2, MP3
Audio pass through : DTS, AC3
Photo formats : JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
Other formats: ISO, IFO
Subtitle formats : SRT, SMI, SUB, SSA


Sigma Designs SMP8635

256MB DDR SDRAM, 32MB Flash
Audio/Video outputs

HDMI v1.1 (up to 1080p)
Component Video (up to 1080p)
Composite Video
Stereo Analog Audio
S/PDIF Coax Digital Audio

2x USB 2.0 host
Parallel ATA

Ethernet 10/100

12V DC, 3A

Width 10.5"(270mm) x Depth 5.25" (132mm) x Height 1.25" (32mm)

2.2 lbs (1Kg)
Package Content

NMT A-100 (HDD not included)
100~240V Power Adapter and 3 Prong Flat US Power Cord
1.5M length HDMI cable
Remote Control with 2 "AAA" batteries
Quick start guide

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Parhel on 11/26/2007 5:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
That product is seriously in need of a new name.

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By splint on 11/26/2007 6:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I donno – it got me to click the link.

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Homerboy on 11/26/2007 5:40:09 PM , Rating: 3
My only gripe about all off-the shelf players is the inability to read .iso/.img files. I realize the legal issues with this, but simply wish a product like Popcorn Hour was left open-source so 3rd parties could add on the ability. That is why I still stick with XBMC for my playback. I know it lacks HD ability, but the playing image files supersedes that for me.

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Homerboy on 11/26/2007 5:44:45 PM , Rating: 2
I take back everything I said.... reading their forums they DO support .iso


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Talcite on 11/26/2007 6:08:42 PM , Rating: 3
shameless viral advertising? =o

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 6:27:21 PM , Rating: 1
With a speclist like that, they really need to ramp up production ;)

Reg. the name, I don't eat popcorn so much... Rather some Mexican stuff with chili ;) so I could always make a sticker and call it "Nachos Box", or the company could make customized names.

Btw. most movies lasts more than a hour, so I really don't get the name either....

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By mmntech on 11/26/2007 6:35:10 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sweet in terms of felxibility but I'm always suspicious of products that aren't available in stores. There's no mention of sales or return policies on their site. Also, the unit does not include an internal hard drive, only 32mb of flash memory. Any sort of device like this that can't store media locally is useless IMO.

As for the Apple TV, I must say that as an Apple fan, I've never liked it and I wouldn't buy one. There really are better options out there.

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By gramboh on 11/26/2007 6:44:50 PM , Rating: 3
Pretty sure with the PCH you install a HDD into it, and you can play media locally or streaming over the network.

My roommate is in the order queue for one. The price is amazing and it can play h264 encoded HD material (even 1080p) in the MKV container as well as TS. Pretty impressive.

Apple TV is a piece of crap compared to it. We are still using XBMC, which is perfect other than no HD.

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By stmok on 11/27/2007 1:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
Also, the unit does not include an internal hard drive, only 32mb of flash memory. Any sort of device like this that can't store media locally is useless IMO.

Eh, I think you have misunderstood something.

The 32MB flash is to store the OS (embedded Linux), drivers, and apps/GUI.

It is NOT to store media. For local media storage, they have provided a PATA interface, and USB 2.0 connections.

While I agree this is an awesome device (feature and spec wise), I'd wait for a more well known company who would use the same Sigma Designs Chipset and have a better distribution system. (Currently, there isn't any distributor in Australia for this device).

RE: All your apples belong to us.
By SirLucius on 11/27/2007 3:12:20 AM , Rating: 2
Haha, I somehow missed the link and thought you were describing the specs for the AppleTV. Needless to say, I was thoroughly confused.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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