Tim Cook shared a pretty interesting data point at yesterday’s D10: All Things Digital conference. He said Apple sold 2.8 million units of the $99 set-top box in 2012 so far, nearly matching sales for the whole of 2011.

Cook argued that 1080p hardware upgrade and greater content availability on iTunes helped drive sales. Microsoft was keen on pointing out that Apple TV numbers pale in comparison to its Xbox 360 console…

Cook also relegated dedicated console gaming to a niche market and repeated his predecessor’s stance on Apple TV being a hobby business when asked to provide an update of Apple’s television efforts.

It’s very uncharacteristic of us: We’ve stayed in the Apple TV product business, and we’re not a hobby kind of company, as you know.

It would seem the following comment provoked a reaction from Microsoft:

Last year, we sold 2.8 million Apple TV’s. This year, in the first 6 months, we’ve sold 2.7 million. We’ve almost equalled last year. That was helped by 1080p and movies in the cloud. It’s a key part of the ecosystem.

This is an area of intense interest for us. Many of us, the TV that we do watch, is almost exclusively on it. That’s what my TV watching is. All of my movies, everything is coming through Apple TV.

To this, Frank X. Shaw, lead corporate communications for the Redmond giant, responded on Twitter:

66m Xbox customers streaming gobs of great content and playing great games = not hobby

I think it’s pretty telling Microsoft even bothered to address Apple ‘s numbers. By doing so, they just acknowledged Apple’s $99 hockey puck as a viable player in the living room space.

Or perhaps it was Cook’s assessment on Apple’s growing credibility in the fast-growing casual gaming market that has been ticking the Windows maker off?

Here’s that remark:

We’re in gaming now. One of the prime reasons buy an iPod touch is gaming. I realize that’s not the big screen that you’re talking about, but gaming has evolved a bit. You have more people playing games on portable devices than on the big screen TV now, so where we might go in the future, you know, we’ll see.

But this is an area where customers love games, we want to do things that customers want us to do. I’m not interested in being in the console business, “traditional” gaming.

But if you view gaming more broadly than that, then I feel we are a pretty big player today and the things we do in the future will only make that bigger.

Cook was taking a stance that gaming nowadays is undergoing a major shift from dedicated consoles that appeal to hard-core gamers to the on the go entertainment on smartphones that targets the growing casual gaming market.

Apple’s secret weapon in this regard is AirPlay, a media streaming technology which works in tandem with a $99 Apple TV box to stream games and other content from iOS devices (and soon from Macs with OS X Mountain Lion installed) to your television set.

Given impressive graphics capabilities of iOS devices and thousands of inexpensive (yet high-quality) games available on the App Store, such a combo effectively bypasses a dedicated gaming system, creating a valuable proposition for casual gamers.

Be that as it may, there’s no doubt that Microsoft will watching Apple’s television strides closely.

Earlier today, we reported on a rumor that Apple is readying a much more feature-complete version of the Apple TV software.

Said to launch in two weeks time at WWDC, the software will reportedly drive a full-blown television set from Apple, which by some accounts is already in early preparations for mass manufacturing.

An important caveat here.

There’s no denying Microsoft’s done a better job at signing deals with content owner.

Nowadays, one has more Hollywood movies and television shows available for streaming to their living room through the Xbox 360 console compared to what’s available on iTunes.

Analysts have long been warning that Apple needs to double down on content availability.

Being content with getting my digital entertainment via iTunes, I’ve only streamed a couple television show episodes through my Apple TV and bought only five movies so far.

As much as I wanted to, I simply find iTunes content seriously lacking in this regard.


  • Frank: 66m Xbox customers streaming gobs of great content and playing great games = not hobby

    TIm Cook: You Mad Bro?

    • Also you have to pay for xbox live and a xbox is around 500$ apple tv is just 99$

      you mad bro?

      • Anonymous

        If your buying an xbox 360 for $500, you sir are an idiot. When best buy sells the higher end version for $299, you saying $500 is just a little ridiculous. Yes, i do see that you are trying to prove a point, saying that the apple tv is only $99, while the xbox is more expensive, but, try not to sound like an idiot when doing so.

      • I’m sorry but I typically want more than a 4GB Hard drive in my console…

      • Anonymous

        @maximΣ. Yes for $149 you get kinect and a 4gb console. For $299 you get a 250gb console.

    • I am sure Tim Cook is extremely pleased:

      30% smartphone OS market share (Apple) versus 4.0% smartphone OS market share (Microsoft)

      65% tablet OS market share (Apple) versus (estimated) 4.0% tablet OS market share (Microsoft)

      USD $11,762 B net income, 3 months ended March 31, 2012 versus USD $5,108 B net income, 3 months ended March 31, 2012

      USD $520 B market capitalization (Apple) versus USD $240 B market capitalization (Microsoft)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see how Streaming multimedia is any less of a “hobby” than gaming is…. comparing Apples and Oranges here(no pun intended).

  • The fact that Microsoft has MORE content available beats out Apple. I mean think about it, the 360 allows you to play your games, has live, talk to others, all for the gamer, iTunes is.. well iTunes is iTunes. Haven’t bought anything from iTunes except apps. Honestly, Apple TV is good if you want to have a personal library of all your movies shows and music available to stream via XMBC and the occasional use for presenting something on your iPhone or iPad. I still however prefer the ATV, why? because my gaming is done on my computer.

    • your forgetting mirror play……….

    • Agreed. I love my apple tv for watching my iTunes library of movies on my tv and AirPlay from my iPhone an iPad but it will never replace my Ps3.

      • Yeah most people by the apple TV for the mirror play part 🙂

  • It’s funny how I started reading the article, and I can figure that it is Christian that wrote it. Has too much quantity compared to quality.

  • Anonymous

    how about 5 inch ipod touch with lg 1080p display for hobby if we lıke it than bring the itv

  • Anonymous

    how about 5 inch ipod touch with lg 1080p display for hobby if we lıke it than bring the itv

  • Anonymous

    Call of duty, halo….biggest single money making games in ALL media of all time……you mad bro?

    • You mean Minecraft?

      • Anonymous

        Lol, minecraft?? Hahaha no dude I mean call of duty. And believe me I ain’t mad bro. Pfft…minecraft, geeze! Really?

  • So what, we start gaming with apple tv and how do we play it? By picking up our tv set and tilting it like an iPod/iPhone/iPad? Pretty difficult with my 46″tv!

    • Anonymous

      You could use an iOS device as a controller

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but i highly doubt that an apple tv will ever replace a xbox 360 or ps3 in the gaming field. For streaming your personal content from a pc, both the 360 and ps3 handle that really well. For streaming itunes, netflix, hulu, the apple tv is much easier and faster. I dont have an apple tv, and probably never will. My ipad2 connected via hdmi is more than good enough for streaming netflix. But, not everyone does the same thing i do.

  • Anonymous

    I know this is an Apple-centric blog but geez, at least try to make it sound unbiased.

    1) Apple TV and Microsoft 360 don’t even belong in the same sentence.
    Dedicated consoles are what SERIOUS gamers buy and the numbers speak for themselves. iOS is good as a portable gaming platform, and is probably best compared to the likes of the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, but even there it has a steep hill to climb.

    For Tim Cook to say that an industry that generates billions of dollars per year is a niche market, shows the reality distortion field is alive and well.

    2) That said, Apple TV isnt even the best device in it’s class. IMO, the Roku offers a much better experience than Apple TV. I say this as someone that owns both. Don’t get me wrong, ATV is great if ALL of your content comes from iTunes (and you don’t care about Hulu), but once you step outside the walled garden, the experience goes to hell.

    Roku + Plex allows me to watch any and all media I have on my iMac without the need to transcode it to something iTunes friendly first, import it, tag it, and all that jazz. It supports Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and a slew of other plugins/apps.

    Yes, it just works.

    3) Apple TV for me at this point has been a wash. Admittedly, I only bought on the things it may do one day (AirPlay mirroring comes to mind), not for what it does now. Apple needs to realize that people consume content outside of iTunes and make ATV more compatible with outside services.

    Maybe this will change if/when iTV becomes a reality.

    • Anonymous

      Well said

  • I’m sorry I own Both. I’ve owned the Xbox Elite to the New Elite and I’ve Owned a 1st Gen apple tv…to the current Apple Tv..and i’m sorry but..I’ll stick wit the Xbox every time cause it’s a GREAT entertainment device..that the Apple TV just can’t compete in..Sure both Stream Movies..but..i don’t like Hulu OR netflix..so the Apple TV gets my vote in that area.

  • Nothing against Steve Cook, but I think it’s a little premature to be making any victory laps. Right now the only thing going for the Apple TV, is that its an apple product. if you never bought any apple content or owned any other apple devices, its not quite that useful. Virtually all of the Apple TV’s content can be found on other devices, including your pc. Airplay has awesome potential, however at this point it’s potential has yet to develop. Most IOS games do not support this feature, and there are movie apps that also lack this feature. Hulu anyone? So at this point, I’d recommend getting an XBOX because its something the whole family can use. And tHe kinect also has a new, insanely cool voice command feature…

  • If apple makes a full sized tv,
    Loaded with ios, and has access to a new app store, it will instantly become the worlds best selling tv. Can you imagine the casual games and apps that will will be used by many? Games that use iPads/pods/phones as remotes an interactive content, cams for Skype, try can be used like motion sensing controllers like the wiimote, the implications are huge IMO.

    Personally I like my atv2, though I only use xbmc and AirPlay.

    My Xbox is used for kinect only. Any real gaming done on the ps3.

  • Anonymous

    As an ipad, iphone, ipod touch and Apple TV owner i believe the Apple TV is just about the weaket divice of its kind on the market. It offers a very small fraction of what say my ROKU offers that cost less. For me airplay and mirroring are the only thing ATV has over other devices and that aint a whole lot. I believe Applem does not offer the content ROKU does because it would eat into its ‘pie’. Fot those who don’t know what ROKU offers check it out. It you dont own an Apple device the ATV is useless.