Apple releases new streaming TV devices with lower prices

Apple released a volley of new gadgets on Tuesday, including an updated version of its Apple TV streaming device that comes with a lower price.

The new version of the Apple TV 4K starts with 64 gigabytes (GBs) of on-board storage for streaming apps and games at a cost of $130, about $50 less than a comparable version introduced several years ago.

The base model of the Apple TV 4K works exclusively with Wi-Fi and ships with an updated Siri-powered voice remote that incorporates USB-C instead of Apple's proprietary Lightning port. It runs on Apple's A15 Bionic processor, which the company says should lead to better loading times and greater compatibility with games. An upgraded version of the new Apple TV 4K includes an Ethernet port for a wired Internet connection and bumps the internal storage to 128 GBs for $30 more.

"Apple TV 4K is the ultimate way for Apple users to enjoy their favorite entertainment on the biggest screen in the home, and now it is more powerful than ever," Bob Borchers, an Apple executive in charge of worldwide product marketing, said in a statement on Tuesday. "The new Apple TV 4K is unlike anything else out there, given its seamless connection to other Apple devices, ease of use, and access to amazing Apple content. It offers something for everyone in the family to love."

The refreshed Apple TV device line-up confirms rumors from earlier this year that the company would introduce a lower-cost version of its streaming devices in order to better compete against cheap streaming pucks and sticks sold by Roku and Amazon.

Apple does not offer specific information on the number of Apple TV devices it sells each year, choosing instead to lump the gadgets with the broader "wearables, home and accessories" section of its quarterly earnings report. Those reports indicate Apple has largely struggled to find new buyers for those types of accessories: Apple raked in $8.08 billion in revenue from that category in the three-month period ending June 25, a drop from $8.76 billion in sales reported across the same period last year.

Apple's streaming TV devices tend to be considerably more expensive than competing devices sold by Roku and Amazon — and that largely remains the case with the new versions of Apple TV. On the high end, Roku's Ultra streaming stick costs $100, while Amazon's newest Fire TV Cube costs $140. Both devices include Ethernet ports; the Fire TV Cube also incorporates microphones for hands-free, voice-powered operation.

Still, many customers appear drawn to cheaper sticks and pucks made by Roku and Amazon, with the companies commanding 80% of the streaming device market, according to new research shared by Parks Associates with Fierce Video on Tuesday. The data, which doesn't include smart TVs or gaming consoles, shows Roku and Amazon's collective command of the streaming device space grew 7% year-over-year.

Parks Associates streaming media player share Q3 2022

By contrast, Apple's share of the streaming device space shrank 3% compared to last year, with the company commanding just 9% of the domestic market share, according to Parks Associates data, the biggest decrease across the four major streaming device platforms (Google TV, which is powered by Android TV, decreased by 1%).

Andrew Freedman, a partner and media research analyst with the financial risk management firm Hedgeye, said the refreshed Apple TV 4K line-up is a step in the right direction, but it probably won't move the needle much in terms of market share.

"Price is a huge factor," Freedman asserted. "If they want to get to the masses, they really need to have a device in market that is less than $50."