Apple finally gave us a new Apple TV 4K and the price is anything but right. Apple won’t care, argues Chris Smith. Apple TV Plus is where the money’s at.
As I watched Apple unveil its first new Apple TV 4K hardware in almost four years, I crossed my fingers. For me, the proposition would be all about the price. The existing model, as old as it is, is way too expensive.
Would Apple realise it is an outlier when compared to Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Google TV options? Would it make the new hardware more competitively priced?
Before you laugh, there’s recent precedent here. After original HomePod arrived on the scene at a much higher price than other smart speakers, the company corrected course with the £99 HomePod mini.
Naively, I thought that might be the case again and believed the new Apple TV 4K might come in around £100 too. Alas no. It’ll cost $179/£169 for 32GB or $199/£189 for the 64GB model. The existing, ancient HD model (albeit with the new remote) stays on sale for $149/£139 Blimey!
On its own, the new Siri Remote (£55/$55) is more expensive than a Fire TV Stick 4K (£49.99/$49.99) too.
Apple would argue that the presence of such hefty storage options, the powerful A12 processor, the brand new premium Siri Remote (the old one sucked), the new HDR and high frame-rate tech among other new features would justify the price tag. It doesn’t.
It’s clear the Apple TV 4K is a luxury device for those deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and has little chance of ensnaring platform-agnostic people. But I can’t see Apple losing any sleep over that.
The new remote aside, this is an iterative update. After four years without a new model, it’s clear Apple TV hardware is not a priority for Apple. You get the sense the company has only released this device out of obligation to keep up with the latest A/V tech, rather than any desire to push things forward.
Besides, it has bigger fish to fry.
Apple TV Plus > Apple TV
Apple TV Plus is now way more important to the company than the success Apple TV hardware. Let me put it a different way: Apple no longer needs Apple TV hardware for Apple TV Plus to be a success.
The firm has spent the last year breaking precedent by ensuring the Apple TV app is available on as many smart TVs, set-top boxes and mobile devices as possible. In the past, it has kept such services and features to itself, in order to push hardware sales.
It took the firm a couple of years to launch an Apple Music app for Android. It’s only recently opened up AirPlay to third-party manufacturers. Previously, if you wanted to cast content from iPhone to TV via AirPlay, you needed an Apple TV. No more.
I use an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and MacBook, but in my opinion, Ted Lasso is still the best thing Apple has produced in years. You do not need an Apple device to revel in its magnificence.
While not quite on the level of my Lasso obsession, For All Mankind is a cracking show I look forward to every week. Many of you may have your favourites too, whether it’s Dickinson, Mythic Quest or The Morning Show.
In the last couple of years Apple has built a formidable services division and Apple TV Plus is a valuable part of that. If you don’t wanna pay a fiver a month for, you may be willing to have it as part of an Apple One bundle including television and movies, music, games, news, fitness classes and cloud storage.
So, no, we can’t see Apple being too upset if Apple TV 4K doesn’t set any sales records. The device is purely for Apple fans who don’t mind paying a little bit over the odds for an easier life. Which is why I’ll be buying it.