Although it has seen much more explosive success selling iPhones and iPads, Apple (AAPL) was an early pioneer in the video streaming set-top box market, releasing the first Apple TV in 2007. In an early Apple TV review from that period, AAPL’s new streamer was praised for its design, but ultimately summed up as being “likely to be relegated only to novelty set-top box and weekend hack project” for most potential buyers.
While Apple TV was off to a slow start, Apple has built the business steadily from “hobby” status to the point today where it’s a billion-dollar-per-year business.
The competition has taken notice, and the Apple TV set-top box is now under siege from smaller and less expensive streaming devices like the Google (GOOG) Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick. Dark clouds are on the horizon in the form of a rumored Amazon (AMZN) device — which might be a set-top box, might be a plug-in stick and might play Android games — but is most definitely intended to challenge Apple TV in the living room.
Apple itself is rumored to be working on a new Apple TV. There have been signs, like the game controller API that could support iOS games on Apple TV, the recent AAPL sale on Apple TVs and Apple TV finally gaining its own category on Apple’s online store. The latest rumor has Comcast (CMCSA) working with Apple on the next generation of the device.
Rumors aside, the current Apple TV is still being sold by APPL, and it’s still a compelling set-top box. Our Apple TV review follows for those who are considering making the jump to Apple’s $1 billion living room video streaming platform.