Would You Buy a New Apple TV for $150 Just to Get 4K Support?

Apple TV is the real reason Apple won't make a television set

A Bloomberg report from earlier this week suggested that Apple was working on a fifth-generation Apple TV that could be released this year. The news comes on the heels of the company hiring Timothy D. Twerdhal to head its TV operations – the executive who formerly headed Amazon’s Fire TV division.

According to the report, an insider told Bloomberg that the J105 (the codename for the new Apple TV) would come with 4K support. Based on the fact that no other new features were mentioned, it’s very likely that this is the only upgrade that the new box will have over the existing model of Apple TV.

Apple is already behind on several technologies, and streaming media seems to be another. Not that Apple TV is doing roaring sales or anything; in fact, research data from eMarketer shows that Apple TV’s market share in connected televisions contracted from 12.5 percent in September 2016 to 11.9 percent in January 2017.

The question is, can 4K support single-handedly revive demand for Apple TV? And why is it important that demand is revived?

The first question might be difficult to answer. Would people be willing to spend the $150 or so to buy a new Apple TV just to get additional support for 4K content? Perhaps, if they were already big fans of the product or if they were die-hard Apple fans.

But the answer to the second question is a lot more obvious. It is absolutely critical for Apple to keep leveraging its loyal fan base any way it can. It’s been done before, with iTunes and, now, Apple Pay. Both these segments are part of the “Apple ecosystem” of products and services that complement each other, feed off each other and keep people within the four walls of Apple’s orchard.

Apple TV is no less important in that respect. But the device is already far behind competing products in terms of capability, and more than twice the cost in most cases. That’s not an easily resolvable predicament.

Apple keeps upgrading its tvOS to bring in new features, but there’s hardly anything that you can call an innovation in the real sense of the word. In short, there’s nothing revolutionary about Apple TV.

Taken together, these two factors point to an inevitable conclusion: Apple needs to shake up its TV unit. They’ve already put that in motion by bringing in a new division head who is more used to aggressive product development cycles at Amazon.

The next thing they need to do is pack as much innovation into the new Apple TV as possible, which they could be doing right now. There is no doubt that Twerdhal was brought in for a very specific reason – to make Apple TV great again.

With a new head and very likely a newly-found direction, it’s going to be interesting to see what the fifth-generation Apple TV actually comes with.

Are they going to bring in all the missing parts that products like Amazon’s Fire TV and Roku already offer? Are they going to continue with their “study in gradualism”, as Bloomberg puts it? Or can they finally wow the world with a truly awesome and useful product that can take them one step closer to transforming people’s homes, like they originally wanted to do?

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