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Is Apple TV Apple's Most Important Product?

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Round up: Apple TV - What You Need To Know
Opinion: Is Apple TV the company's most important product?


There is a lot of excitement about 7 March, but it is focused on the wrong product. While the headlines speculate upon the possibility of Tim Cook unveiling a fatter iPad 3 or even iPad 2S, an arguably far more important product is also tipped to take to the stage: a new Apple TV

In purely financial terms this sounds like a ludicrous statement. In January Apple reported huge financial results which revealed sales of 15.43 million iPads in just 14 weeks up to 31 December. It represented a growth of 111 per cent over the same period in 2010 and nearly tripled the 5.2m Macs sold over the same period. A post PC era indeed.

Furthermore iPhone sales were reported at 37.04m, an even bigger 128 per cent leap year on year. To quote Tim Cook: "We’re thrilled with our outstanding results and record-breaking sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs". What of the Apple TV? It wasn't even mentioned.

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Except this isn't entirely true. Cook was quizzed about the omission of Apple TV figures by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in follow up financial call. "The Apple TV product is doing actually very well," Cook admitted. "In the last fiscal year that ended in September we sold a bit above 2.8 million units, and just in the past quarter we set a new quarterly record for Apple TV at over 1.4 million." That said, "in the scheme of things, if you [check] the revenues, we still classify this as a hobby" he added. Again financially speaking Cook is right, 1.4m $99 Apple TVs (admittedly £99 in the UK) would generate just $140m compared to the $2.5bn for the iPad, $6.6bn for the Mac and $9bn for the iPhone.
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Interestingly, given Apple's famous marketing rhetoric, Cook continued to play down the Apple TV. "I think it's a fantastic product," he said "and we continue to pull the strings to see where it takes us" but then the guard slipped: "if you're using the latest one… I don't know about you, but I couldn't live without it." Taken as a whole this paints an unusually convoluted picture for a company so polished in its presentation: "50 per cent of all sales in the last three months, hobby, see where it takes us, I couldn't live without it". Anyone might think Apple is trying to hide something?

And this is precisely the point. For all the synergy between Apple products they remain largely isolated devices. You don't use an iPhone with an iPod or an iPad with a Mac, but you do use them all with Apple TV…

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