History of the Apple TV


Hey guys, it’s Greg with Apple Explained,
and today we’re going to explore the history of the Apple TV. This topic was the third place winner of last
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which video you’d like to see next. So in this video I want to cover Apples set
top box but also include additional elements of Apple’s involvement in the television
market. Because Apple has and continues to experiment
in this industry despite never having released a traditional television set. So, I’ll start off by briefly mentioning
the Macintosh TV. This was a short-lived attempt in 1993 to
integrate TV and computers in a way that was pretty ahead of its time. It was essentially a personal computer that
could be switched between computing functions to a cable television display. Users could watch TV in a desktop window,
and it came with a small remote that controlled the TV functions from afar. While it was a pretty novel idea, the Macintosh
TV cost over $2,000, almost $3,500 today adjusting for inflation, and only about 10,000 models
were ever produced. It was discontinued the following year in
1994 and Apple wouldn’t attempt to integrate TV and computing in quite the same way for
another twelve years. Now, the Apple TV that we’re all familiar
with today was officially introduced in 2006 by Steve Jobs. It was initially referred to as “iTV”,
which used Apple’s traditional ‘i’ moniker, and was going to be Apple’s first big foray
into the home entertainment market. But things got off to a rocky start, because
before the product was even launched, Apple was faced with some legal trouble. The name iTV was already copyrighted by a
British broadcasting network who refused to give it up. They threatened legal action against the tech
company and Apple changed the name before its 2007 release. This came as a surprise to many, considering
Apples tendency to fiercely defend logos, names, and trademarks, but Apple yielded without
putting up a fight and Apple TV began shipping to customers on March 21, 2007. The very first generation of Apple TV wasn’t
really anything ground breaking. The device was a small, HDMI equipped set
top box that you could connect to your TV and play video, music, podcasts, or display
photos from your computer. It ran Apple TV Software 1.0, featured a Pentium
M 1 GHz core processor, and came with a 40 GB hard drive. It displayed Apples FrontRow interface, borrowed
from Mac OS X, which allowed users to change settings, select media, and change input sources. But in order to load content onto the Apple
TV, you had to use a computer with iTunes to transfer your files, and it could only
be controlled using the Apple Remote. Basically, any computer in your household
could be hooked up to the device, run through the FrontRow interface, and used to watch
videos or play audio from a TV. Luckily, a software update wasn’t far behind
which allowed the Apple TV to be used as a stand-alone device. Updates also did away with FrontRow and replaced
it with a more user-friendly interface. The 2.0 release in 2008 introduced an option
for streaming YouTube videos, and the 3.0 update in 2009 gave a general “internet”
option to connect to a browser. This final first-gen update also included
new features, like iTunes extras, internet radio, and customization tools like content
filters and font selections. Apple also offered an “Apple Remote” app
for iPhone so that users could control the Apple TV from their phone, without the need
for an extra remote. Now, this first-generation release was a little
bit clunky and not all that popular. Video streaming wasn’t a big market yet,
so Apple TV wasn’t in very high demand at the time. And this seemed like a strange deviation from
Apples traditional product strategy, since they were known for taking popular concepts,
simplifying them, and releasing them in a user-friendly package. It was an early-adopter kind of device, and
its price of $299 really didn’t justify its functionality to most users outside of
hobbyists. In fact, Jobs himself described Apple TV as
a “hobby” a number of times – even as Apple was trying to figure out how to carve
a niche in the television market. In the following few years, the legacy TV
industry preemptively punched back at products like Apple TV and other set-top devices like
Roku and TiVo, by providing set-top boxes for customers for free or subsidized with
their contracts. And that meant the market for Apple TV got
even smaller. Nonetheless, things started to look up a little
bit for Apple TV by its second-generation release. This updated model came out in September 2010
and stayed around for two years. It featured a sharp new design that was smaller,
shinier and black rather than silver. It also had flash drive storage and upgraded
WiFi capabilities. But the most important change to the second
gen Apple TV was its price. Apple slashed the cost from $299 to just $99,
and that alone made the Apple TV a much more attractive option for potential customers. Another major change for this release was
the operating system – Apple TV no longer ran a version of OS X, but rather a version
of iOS. And perhaps the biggest change had little
to do with the Apple TV itself – because streaming video services had now become popular. Netflix’s online streaming service had just
blown up in popularity, and the second-generation Apple TV allowed users to play video not only
from iTunes, but from the Netflix streaming service as well. Subsequent updates integrated even more outside
streaming and viewing options, including Vimeo, Flickr, and MLB TV. Next came the third generation in March of
2012. This release wasn’t dramatically different
from the second generation – it still featured an 8 GB flash drive, HDMI and USB ports, and
an Apple A5 processor. But it improved on its predecessor’s WiFi
capability and video streaming quality, this time bumping up to 1080p. Its size, weight, design, and price remained
the same for the next three years. But in March 2015, the Apple TVs price dropped
to just $69 – which may have been a response to the low price of other set top boxes on
the market. Although the second and third generation Apple
TVs were a vast improvement on the first generation, they were still little more than “hobbies”. They were locked down with a set of apps that
couldn’t be changed, and while Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and Amazon Video covered quite
a bit of the market, there was no reason for most people to buy a device they couldn’t
really customize. Also, competitors like Roku and Google had
far more reliable, affordable, and customizable devices that were taking over the market. In 2014, a survey showed that Apple TV had
only taken 17% of the set top box market share – losing out big time to Google’s Chromecast. But Apple wasn’t giving up. On October 30th, 2015, the company released
the fourth generation Apple TV. This one came with its own dedicated operating
system, called tvOS. And although tvOS wasn’t supported on earlier
generations of Apple TV, the new release was worth the upgrade for most. It featured a 1.5 GHz dual core Apple A8 processor,
Bluetooth 4.0 support, HDMI 1.4, and 32 or 64 GB of flash storage, compared to 8 GB in
the previous models. And although it was a little bit taller, the
fourth gen Apple TV maintained the sleek and attractive design of the second and third
generation. This model also introduced voice recognition
with Siri and a new remote that included a touchpad for easier navigation and was able
to control the actual television set, as well as the Apple TV itself. But the biggest addition to the fourth generation
model was the App Store. And this meant the Apple TV was now a gaming
console. Apple was never very competitive in the gaming
world, with PC and other console manufacturers taking the lions share of the gaming market
for decades.But with the rise of casual and mobile gaming and the ever-increasing popularity
of the App Store, Apple TV offered a new and exciting opportunity to expand the market
for Apple gaming. The introduction of tvOS, as well as a new
software development kit, allowed third-party developers to design and release apps and
games specifically for the platform. But the fourth generation Apple TV came with
a few drawbacks. Its limited storage space proved to be a challenge
for game developers who, due to a feature called “App Thinning”, had to limit app
sizes and download content in segments, instead of all at once. In addition to trouble with data loss in apps,
the price of this generation shot up for the first time, from $69 to $149 for 32 GB. Now, around this time in 2016, Apple also
released something called the TV App. This app was designed for tvOS, but also ran
on iOS devices like the iPhone. It offered a replacement for some of the previous
interfaces Apple TV offered and came pre-installed with tvOS 10.1 and later. It offered a way for users to not only access
their own media library, but streaming content from apps and the App Store as well. It was another important feature to fully
integrate apps into the Apple TV system. At this point, Apple no longer released sales
figures for the Apple TV, and many speculated that it wasn’t doing too well. But despite sales numbers, another generation
was released in September 2017. The fifth generation, or Apple TV 4K as it
was named, featured even better hardware than before, including a 2.38 GHz hexa-core Apple
A10X Fusion processor, a 13-watt power supply, and a brand new update for tvOS. It was the same size and weight as the fourth
generation, but did away with the USB-C port, leaving only an HDMI input and output. Although its price rose once again from $149
to $179 for 32 GB and $199 for 64 GB, this model also featured 4K video support, HDR10,
Gigabit ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0, support for Dolby Vision, and automatic 4K video scaling. Now there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding
the Apple TV remote included with the fourth and fifth generation models. It featured much more advanced technology
than the previous remote making it much more expensive to replace if it was ever lost or
broken. Replacing the remote costs $59, which is three
times more than the previous $19 Apple remote included with earlier generations of Apple
TVs. And the new remote has turned out to be much
less durable since the glass trackpad is prone to cracking when dropped. But Apple is known for sacrificing affordability
and durability for great design and user experience. So the Apple TV may never take control of
the market or become an iconic Apple product. But there is some speculation about whether
or not Apple will ever step up and tackle the problem of the actual TV set. In his official biography, Steve Jobs spoke
about revolutionizing the television, changing it the way Apple has changed phones, tablets,
and desktop computers. He said that he wanted to create a TV that
integrated with all a user’s devices – free from messy cables and set-top boxes completely. But Apple has yet to fulfill this vision and
many in the tech industry don’t think it would be possible to achieve anyway. For now, it seems like Apple will leave actual
televisions to their manufacturers and stick to innovation in other areas of the market. So, today, there are three Apple TV models
available. The Apple TV fourth generation is available
only in a 32 GB model, and boasts 1080p video streaming, photo viewing, and an app marketplace. The Apple TV 4K is available in both a 32
GB and 64 GB model and features support for 4K, better performance, and support for Dolby
Atmos. So that is the history of the Apple TV, and
if you want to vote for the next video topic, don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next
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