News and Analysis
Apple yesterday unveiled its new Apple TV streaming device which will support 4K video as well as two High Dynamic Range formats, HDR10 and DolbyVision HDR. (HDR purports to offer more vivid and realistic colors.)
The 32GB version will cost $179 while the 64GB device will go for $199. Apple will take pre-orders for both starting this Friday, and will begin shipping on Friday, September 22.
By launching a 4K Apple TV, Apple catches up with rival streaming devices Fire TV and Roku which have offered 4K editions for more than a year.
However, Apple hopes that its 4K streamer will be seen as a leader because it will include the A10 X Fusion Chip that helps the company’s new iPad Pro run faster and more efficiently, and it will support DolbyVision HDR, which Fire TV, and Roku’s Ultra 4K and Premiere+ 4K do not. (However, it should be noted that relatively few titles are available in DolbyVision HDR.)
In addition, Apple will sell 4K titles for the same price as their HD editions, which normally cost around $20. Most companies that sell 4K downloads charge a premium of $5 to 10 more for new titles.
Apple will offer a free upgrade to 4K of select HD titles purchased via the company’s iTunes store.
The new Apple TV also will support live news and sports later this year, but Fire TV and Roku have offered apps for those features for some time.
In summary, the new Apple 4K device will likely appeal to Apple enthusiasts who either own 4K TVs or have been considering buying one.
That’s not a huge segment of the online audience which means that Apple is likely to continue to trail Roku and Amazon as the leading sellers of streaming devices. Most owners of Roku and Amazon 4K devices will likely be satisfied with what they currently have. (The price of the new Apple TV will also be a problem; starting at $179, it’s now $80 more than the Roku Ultra.)
It also remains to be seen if offering 4K downloads for $20 will actually encourage more people to buy the titles online. Many consumers still prefer to get either a Blu-ray or Blu-ray 4K disc if they are buying a movie, although the price will now be a few dollars more.
Some might also argue that Apple is too late to the game with a 4K device. But the 4K audience is still relatively small due to a variety of reasons.
I’ll have more about that later in the week.
— Phillip Swann