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The Apple TV is far from the most affordable set-top box out there, but it looks like Apple could finally be planning to change that with a lower-cost model later this year.
Although the Apple TV is considerably more expensive than most of its competition, there are many good reasons for that. After all, the Apple TV is a much more powerful and feature-rich device than an Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast, or Roku Express. You can use it to sync up workouts with your Apple Watch, play games from the App Store or Apple Arcade, and use it to power your entire home automation network.
So far, the only answer that Apple has seemingly had for this is to keep the 2015 Apple TV HD on the market with a slightly lower $149 price tag.
While even the 2015 Apple TV model is still a capable device, itâ€™s a price point that feels somewhat absurd. For only $30 more, you can get the latest 2021 4K model that boasts a faster CPU and excellent HomePod integration.
According to well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple plans to launch a new version of the Apple TV in the second half of 2022 that â€œimproves cost structureâ€ and helps close the gap with its competitors.
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Kuo doesnâ€™t go into much detail, so itâ€™s hard to predict exactly what form this new Apple TV may take. However, Apple could easily reduce the price tag by offering a â€œliteâ€ version of the Apple TV that focuses solely on streaming capabilities. Perhaps an â€œApple TV mini.â€
Apple once considered a lower-cost Apple TV dongle to compete with Amazon and Roku. However, the companyâ€™s senior marketing execs, Phil Schiller and Greg Joswiak, rejected it, fearing that getting into â€œcheap, low-margin devicesâ€ would tarnish Appleâ€™s reputation.
If Apple were to remove features like HomeKit, Home Theatre Audio, and gaming, it could scale the Apple TV down to a lower-power configuration and sell it as a set-top box intended solely for consuming content from streaming services. This would also take the Apple TV back to its roots.
Before Apple launched the fourth-generation Apple TV with the tvOS operating system and accompanying App Store, earlier generations of Apple TV used a closed operating system focused almost entirely on video and audio streaming.
In those days, Apple TV users couldnâ€™t add their own streaming services â€” these came bundled in Apple TV Software Updates provided by Apple. However, thereâ€™s no reason that a new Apple TV would have to follow that model. A scaled-down version of tvOS could still allow for user-installed streaming apps.
The second and third-generation Apple TVs typically sold for $99. Apple even dropped the price of the third-generation model to $69 in the months before the new tvOS model launched (that would be the Apple TV HD that Apple still sells for $149). The first-generation Apple TV had a higher price tag, but that was also a unique device for a fundamentally different era.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]