Apple TV Set-Top Box vs Apple TV Television Set: What Makes Sense?

Rumors of an Apple-branded television set have been puttering around for quite some time, but does a smart TV from Apple make sense?

The company’s current Apple TV set-top box works with any HDTV and essentially gives it smart TV functionality, allowing users to stream content from various streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as allowing you to purchase movies and TV shows right from the device and begin watching it on your TV.

At just $100, the Apple TV is a device that any home entertainment junkie can easily afford, and it’s quite the deal considering how much use you can get out of it, so why would Apple want to increase that barrier to entry with an expensive television of its own with what we’re assuming will just be built-in Apple TV capabilities? Does it make sense for Apple to release its own smart TV?

We spoke to a couple of industry experts about the feasibility of an Apple smart TV and whether or not it makes sense for the consumer market. Ryan Freeze, who is the founder Joint Retail Ventures, says that he does not “see any benefit” of Apple going with a television set, saying that the popularity of set-top boxes can be directly attributed to the biggest problem for TVs: obsolescence.

Apple TV

“TVs are changing very frequently now, and therefore are being replaced more often. While this may seem like it would increase the number of TVs sold, the numbers are nowhere near smartphone upgrade cycles due to the cost of TVs. Set-top boxes, on the other hand, can be replaced with much higher frequency or upgraded independently without affecting video quality itself,” says Freeze.

He says that it’s better to treat the TV as a display only, rather than with a built-in computer, which requires more upgrades and refreshes in order to stay up to date. This is why it’s better to keep your current TV for several years, but simply just replace your streaming set-top box every year or whenever a better one comes out, which is much cheaper.

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Linda Arroz of Makeover Media says that there are benefits to an Apple-branded smart TV, including less clutter and cables in your home entertainment system, as well as one less remote that you’ll have to deal with.

However, are those inconveniences enough to persuade consumers to buy a whole new TV for their living room? Probably not for the most of us, but if you’re in the market for a new TV anyway, then why not?

Read: Apple TV Rumor Roundup

The Apple TV is due for an upgrade, and rumors are pointing to a massive overhaul of the set-top box, including game support and a built-in TV tuner with the possibility of a partnership with Comcast that would bring live TV streaming to the box.

According to a February report from the IHS, television sales saw a 9% decline last year due to the little interest that consumers had for upgrading televisions after they already upgraded to HDTV for the first time. This goes to show that households rarely update their television, and will only do so when a new standard format is achieved, like high-definition and the upcoming 4K definition.

Furthermore, streaming set-top boxes are currently more popular than smart TVs, with the Apple TV leading the way as the most-popular set-top box on the market. However, Business Insider predicts that smart TVs will overtake streaming boxes as the prices for smart TVs continue to drop over time.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said in the past that the television sector is an “area of intense interest” for the company, but it wasn’t clear exactly what Apple had in mind. It could be as simple as just a new Apple TV set-top box with more capabilities, or the company is, in fact, going all-out and releasing an actual television. We’ll have to wait and see, as 2014 looks to be the year that we’ll find out for sure what Cook and company are brewing.

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