A new Apple TV streamer will launch in the second half of 2022, according to a trusted analyst. And there’s a hint in the prediction that the device will cost less than its predecessors.
A cheaper version of Apple’s set-top box could help it grab a higher share of the set-top box market. And it could certainly use the boost.
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Expect Apple TV in 2022 with a better ‘cost structure’
While sometimes overlooked, a TV set-top box is often the centerpiece of a home entertainment setup. Apple’s efforts to be a player in this market have so far met with mixed success against competitors like Roku and Amazon.
But Cupertino keeps trying, and has new hardware on the horizon. “Apple will launch a new version of Apple TV that improves cost structure in 2H22,” according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst from from TF International Securities, in a tweet sent Friday.
It’s not 100% clear what Kuo means when he says the next tvOS streamer “improves cost structure.” It’s apparently an indication that the device will be cheaper to make. But that doesn’t automatically mean that Apple will sell it for less.
It could, though. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that price is Apple TV’s weak spot. Its most affordable version is $149, while a basic Roku Express is $25. That’s why more than half of U.S. households own a Roku. Apple has only a small share.
But Kuo, for one, is optimistic about Apple’s future in this market. “I think that Apple’s aggressive strategy of integrating hardware, content, and service amid the recession will help close the gap with its competitors,” said the analyst. He’s referring to the company offering both a set-top box and Apple TV+, a streaming service that’s showing signs of growing in popularity.
His comment on Friday about “integrating hardware, content, and service” raises the possibility that Cupertino might offer an Apple TV box at a discount to people who sign up for a year of Apple TV+.
Comparing Apple TVs and oranges
No matter what improvements to cost structure Apple makes, it can never offer a $25 Apple TV to compete directly with Roku Express. The company has committed itself to streaming devices that are also game consoles.
Its set-top boxes can play most of the games available through Apple Arcade. That requires them to have a fairly powerful processor. The Apple TV version released in 2021 included an upgrade to the Apple A12 chip, and the 2022 model could have an A13 or A14.
The very affordable Roku simply is not powerful enough to be a game console. It’s hardware isn’t up to the job. But it’s cheap to make. The same goes for the $40 Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Apple is going to have to find ways to make its streaming device more competitive with these budget models if it wants to take a bigger piece of the market.