Advanced Television

Apple TV 4K launched

September 13, 2017

By Colin Mann

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

  • Built on the A10X Fusion chip — the same chip that powers iPad Pro — the new Apple TV 4K delivers what Apple describes as “a vivid 4K HDR experience”.
  • Support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10 ensures users can enjoy incredible-looking TV shows and movies on any HDR TV.
  • Built-in high-performance 4K video scaler makes HD content look better than ever on a 4K TV.
  • Always outputting to the highest resolution possible allows viewers to get the most out of their TV, whether it’s an older HDTV or the latest 4K Dolby Vision OLED.
  • Automatic detection of a 4K TV’s capabilities optimise setup for the best quality picture.

Siri & the Apple TV App

  • Siri and the Apple TV app are easy ways to find and play exactly what you want. The TV app brings all your favourite shows and movies together, and Siri makes it possible to search and access content across Apple TV using just your voice.
  • The TV app supports over 60 services on Apple TV and iOS devices, with more being added all the time. Whether you’re at home or on the go, it’s easy to discover and watch TV shows and movies from multiple apps in one place.
  • Siri is smart about 4K HDR, so it’s unbelievably simple to find movies and TV shows in the highest picture quality across your apps (e.g., ‘Show me movies in 4K’).
  • Later this year, the TV app is making it easier than ever to watch and get updates about live sports just by saying ‘Watch the Warriors game or What’s the score of the Cubs game?’
  • Sports fans in the US will be able to track their favourite teams and get on-screen notifications whenever they are playing, as well as see all the teams, leagues and sporting events currently playing through a dedicated Sports tab.
  • Starting this month, the TV app will be available in Australia and Canada, in addition to the US. And, by the end of the year, it will expand to France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK.

Apple TV at Home

  • Users can share recent photos and videos from iPhone and iPad, including the best Memories, with friends and family on the biggest screen, with iCloud on Apple TV.
  • It’s also simple to send movies, TV shows, home videos and photos from iPhone or iPad instantly to the TV using AirPlay from your iOS devices.
  • With support for AirPlay 2, coming later this year, Apple TV can control multiple AirPlay 2-compatible speakers as well as home theatre speakers to create the ultimate home music experience.
  • Apple TV goes beyond entertainment to help deliver on Apple’s vision of the smart home. Since Apple TV is always at home, it’s perfectly suited to act as a home hub for all of your HomeKit accessories, enabling remote access as well as automated control (e.g., automatically turning on the lights at sunset).

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.

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