Apple TV’s surging popularity might surprise you


Apple TV at home
Millions of people sit down in front of an Apple TV every night, and that number is expected to grow and grow.
Photo: Apple

Because Apple TVs aren’t used in public, it’s easy to underestimate how many of them are. A market-analysis firm says that 21 percent of US households regularly use an Apple set-top box.

And the number of households with access to the underlying streaming technology is expected to grow dramatically now that third-party TV makers can integrate it into their products.

21 percent is nothing to sneeze at

There are 26 million Apple TV’s used in US homes, according to analyst Gene Munster from LoupVentures. That’s nearly half of the global 53 million active Apple TVs worldwide.

While these streaming media devices are more popular than some might think, they are still being outsold by Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast.

Apple TV popping up all around

That’s almost certainly why Apple decided to license its tech to TV makers Samsung, Vizio, Sony and LG. LoupVentures’ analysts predict big things from these partnerships. They expect the US installed base of Apple TV and compatible televisions to grow by 2 million units a year going forward.

“We believe, eventually, many major TVs will embed Apple TV software. This adoption curve may be similar to CarPlay, which Apple recently reported is available in 90% of new cars sold in the US, and 75% globally,” wrote Munster.

As a bonus, smart TVs with Apple’s software also function as HomeKit hubs, allowing them to control Apple’s home automation system.

All about Apple TV+

Apple needs as many screens as possible to support its upcoming streaming video service for it to be a success. Apple TV+ was unveiled early this spring, and will soon launch with high-profile shows like Stephen Spielberg’s Amazing Stories. And Aquaman’s Jason Momoa will head up See, a sci-fi epic world-building drama in which everyone in the world is blind. There will also be movies and documentaries.

This service will debut this fall. There’s no word yet on what the monthly subscription fee be be.

Apple TV set-top boxes not going away

Allowing a variety of TV makers to use Apple TV software won‘t be the end of the iPhone maker’s dedicated set-top box, however.

“We believe the standalone box will continue to offer two features not available on third-party display integration,” said Munster. “First, the Siri remote which is increasingly used for navigation and content discovery. Second, the ability to pair a PlayStation or Xbox game controller is a measurable value add for the upcoming Arcade gaming service.”

Last week, Apple announced support for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game controllers in tvOS 13, which is expected this fall.



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