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Published on November 21st, 2018 | by Brad Gibson


Apple reportedly explores low-cost, Roku-like Apple TV dongle

Apple is considering creating a lower-cost Apple TV dongle that’s similar to the Roku Streaming Stick, Amazon Fire Stick or the Google Chromecast, according to a published story Wednesday.

In a scant, detailing-lacking report from The Information, sources said Apple has held “internal discussions” about introducing a smaller, cheaper streaming device, which would be priced lower than the current Apple TV and presumably plug into a USB or HDMI port on televisions.

If the device comes to reality, it would be part of an overall strategy to promote an upcoming streaming service expected to launch in 2019. A lower-cost Apple TV dongle would make the service, which will reportedly be available only on Apple devices, more accessible to potential consumers.

Apple’s commitment to high-end, high-profit-margin products has severely impacted its market share of streaming players, preventing it from dominating a growing segment of online video streaming. Apple TVs share of streaming devices is third among manufacturers at 15 percent, according to data from market research company Parks Associates reported in May by BESTAppleTV.

Apple TV unit sales trailed Amazon Fire Stick in second with a 28 percent share, and Roku in first with a 37 percent share – a more than two-to-one advantage over Apple’s streaming device.

Right now, Apple’s only streaming television product is the Apple TV, priced at $179 for the Apple TV 4K and $149 for the fourth-generation model. Current TV dongles from Roku and Google are much lower in price, starting at $30 and $35, respectively.

The good news for Apple is that while Amazon has been increasing its market share on the back of cheaper prices and the popularity of its Alexa Voice Remote smart speaker technology, Apple TV is maintaining its customer base, which was 15 percent in 2017.

The bad news…its popularity and sales are not growing as fast as more inexpensive devices that are staying up with Apple TVs features and ease-of-use.

Parks Associates research analyst Kristen Hanich told BESTAppleTV the growth in streaming media players has been in the more inexpensive devices like those from Roku, Amazon and Google.

“Amazon has offered really aggressive pricing and bundled the device with special offers,” she said. “They’ve also tied in with these devices the Echo smart speaker that has also grown in popularity and tied with it the Amazon Prime membership.”

The dominance of Roku is clearly evident in the companies number one ranking for more than four years. “They are growing at about the same rate as the overall installed base,” she said. “They have a lot of mindshare among consumers. They appeal to pretty much every level of the market. Putting premium features in lower-priced devices has been an added advantage.”

Rumors have suggested Apple is planning to roll out a streaming service next year in more than 100 countries that include a bundle of other services like Apple Music and an Apple News subscription that might include Texture, the magazine service that it purchased back in March.

Original television content created by Apple could be made available for free to those with an Apple TV and other Apple portable devices. Apple reportedly is also negotiating deals to provide access to subscription channels like HBO, Starz, and Showtime, similar to the way third-party content is sold through Amazon.

For its streaming service, Apple has more than 15 original television shows in the works, and it has signed a deal to produce movies with the Oscar-winning studio A24 Films.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the AOL, the BBC, Associated Press, and United Press International.

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