Amid the fanfare of the release of updated iPhones, Apple’s launch event also included the introduction of the new Apple TV 4K designed to deliver what the tech giant calls “a stunning cinematic experience at home”.
With Apple TV 4K, viewers can enjoy a growing selection of 4K HDR movies on iTunes. iTunes users will get automatic upgrades of HD titles in their existing iTunes library to 4K HDR versions when they become available. Apple TV 4K will also offer 4K HDR content from popular video services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video coming soon.
“Bring the magic of the cinema straight to your living room with the new Apple TV 4K,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Customers will love watching stunning 4K HDR movies from an impressive catalogue on iTunes, while also getting automatic upgrades of 4K HDR movies already in their iTunes library and enjoying 4K content on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, coming soon.”
4K & HDR
Siri & the Apple TV App
Apple TV at Home
Pricing & Availability
Apple TV 4K starts at £179 (€199) for 32GB or £199 for 64GB, joining Apple TV (4th generation) 32GB at £149. Customers will be able to order both Apple TV 4K models beginning Friday, September 15th, with availability beginning Friday, September 22nd.
According critical information, analytics and solutions expert IHS Markit Apple has delivered a 4K-capable Apple TV on a timely basis, as the 4K ecosystem begins to accelerate thanks to limited-but-improving 4K content availability and rising 4K TV adoption. Additionally, the competition (namely Roku, Google, and Amazon) have launched a variety of 4K-capable products, with Roku already supporting 4K at 60 fps with HDR support. This move brings Apple to competitive parity in hardware, coordinated with 4K and HDR content availability from the iTunes store.
In value-added features, the new Apple TV’s gaming capabilities are considerably improved. Also, the ability to view and control HomeKit devices also was demonstrated, which may prove a differentiator over time if the HomeKit ecosystem’s adoption proves substantial.
The launch of the prior fourth-generation Apple TV did not generate the positive momentum needed to overtake the competition, with Apple’s current price positioning a competitive liability. Globally, Apple TV remains behind in shipments, facing steep competitive pressure in North America from Roku, Google, and Amazon, and globally from Google (with Roku and Amazon in select markets).
Today’s competitive landscape for Apple TV spans from $25 to $100 for basic streaming video enablement to 4K HDR 60fps support. Though some of Apple TV’s must-have unique appeals for iOS device owners previously were the integrated ability to view content stored on iPhones and perform screen mirroring via AirPlay, competitors all have some capability to provide similar functionality via additional apps either iOS-device-side or receiving-device-side. With iOS mirroring and media playback less of an exclusive hook for iOS device owners, the new Apple TV faces an uphill battle to regain lost ground against the competition due to a price/capability ratio that offers mostly feature parity at an 80 per cent to 100 per cent premium.
The caveat is the fourth/fifth generation Apple TVs’ collective differentiator – gaming. However, gaming as an added-value proposition with the prior model has not generated sufficient consumer response at the $149-199 price tiers to substantially advance the brand’s competitive position in the streaming video device market. Therefore, it is unlikely, with a new three-product lineup continuing to span $149-199, that the addition of 4K and HDR will motivate enough consumers to change Apple’s competitive standing.
This pricing-induced status quo is expected to be reinforced by competitors’ further drops in 4K streaming device pricing and new product introductions over the next several quarters. As a bellwether, grey-market generic Android set-top boxes capable of 4K at 60 fps are already less than $40 in China. 4K resolution rapidly has become table stakes, even for low-cost manufacturers and SoC providers. Competition and falling costs are expected to steadily whittle down the price premium able to be charged for 4K over the next year.
Apple TV 4K’s continued 80 per cent to 100 per cent premium over increasingly aggressive competition is expected to limit the new model’s available market to primarily aggressive adopters and the Apple product-faithful with higher amounts of disposable income. Without competitive price revisions over the next year, it is not expected to expand its appeal substantially beyond that base outside of sales generated from older-model Apple TV users’ replacement cycle over time.
According to IHS Markit, the new Apple TV 4K will still be financially successful within these confines, and will provide Apple ecosystem users with a well-integrated way to purchase and stream 4K and HDR content to their TV. However, it is not expected to be a game-changer in terms of Apple’s competitive fortunes against Roku, Google, and Amazon globally in annual shipments. The Apple TV 4K’s biggest impact will be due to the high profile of Apple itself – its launch is Apple’s formal endorsement of the 4K ecosystem, further speeding up the collective consumer and industry transition to 4K.