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Asymco: Apple TV about as successful as iPad Smart Covers

updated 03:19 pm EDT, Thu May 31, 2012

Apple's hobby media model polar opposite of iPhone

Apple has long described its Apple TV peripheral as "a hobby" for the company, and the device appears to bring in revenues commensurate with its status within the company. Analytics firm Asymco recently took a look at the sales history for Apple TV, finding that the device likely pulls in revenues comparable to Apple's popular accessory, the iPad Smart Covers. The Apple TV, though, displays a media revenue model starkly different from any of Apple's other devices.

Asymco's analysis includes all of the publicly-known sales data for the Apple TV and interpolations to fill any gaps. The analysis concludes that Apple achieved about $344 million in 2011 hardware revenues for the device, or, by comparison, about five percent of revenues brought by the iPod.

Aside from the raw hardware sales, however, Asymco assumes that Apple TV's content sales pull in about $10 per month per device. That amounts to about five TV shows, or one movie purchased, or two movies rented per month. With an install base of approximately 10 million by the end of 2011, that would equal about $1.2 billion in content sales for Apple TVs in use.

Apple, due to its deals with content providers, would bring in approximately 30 percent of that figure, or $360 million. Added to the $344 million in hardware revenues, that amounts to $704 million generated by the Apple TV. In terms of revenue, this puts Apple's hobby device about on par with Asymco's estimated revenues from sales of its iPad Smart Covers.

Asymco's analysis marks the Apple TV as novel within Apple's profit structure in that content sales account for a significant portion of the revenues from the device. By comparison, the iPhone relies on a "break-even" model with the iTunes App Store but brings in considerable hardware margins. While making no hard predictions, Asymco does note the uniqueness of Apple's hobby device with a wink toward the possibility of an Apple-branded television somewhere in the offing.

by MacNN Staff



  1. BlueGonzo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple should make the public api and allow developers to create apps for the Apple TV. The apps should work like TV channels so content providers create Apple TV apps with rich and interactive contend (like the apps bundled with the US version of the Apple TV with the NBA, NHL, or WSJ. They should sell the apps on the iTunes app store in a new Apple TV section.

    Another feature I would go for is a app on the Apple TV using the Elgato NetStream Sat to watch TV (like the current solution for the iPad). If this would be possible I would buy a Apple TV for every TV set I own.

    I hope someday this dream comes true.

  1. SierraDragon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hobby up

    The Apple TV is a "hobby" like the Newton was a hobby; and we got the iPad from the Newton.

    I believe the Apple TV has been a test bed of sorts and it will lead to a whole new product line.


  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    indeed, Sierra

    a hobby? Sure, for now. The television market is potentially very lucrative but a very difficult nut to crack. It is a mix of old-school (broadcast TV and affiliates relationships) and new-school (Hulu and streaming/selling shows online).

    The cable/sat TV paradigm is EXACTLY like the CD paradigm - you are forced to buy a bunch of c*** you will never watch (listen to), in order to get the handful of networks (tracks) you really want.

    It's just begging to have Apple smash it, and have the pieces fall in Apple's lap.

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