Why I Think AppleTV Will Be Discontinued (Involves Upcoming Mac Mini)

in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Of course this is just personal speculation. I don't pretend to be any better (or worse ) than others here at reading the Apple tea leaves, and I don't have any "reliable sources". I am curious to put this idea out here - maybe not the first - and let the inhabitants of AI critique my points.

Almost two years ago, I EBayed my G4 Mac Mini (first Mac I ever owned) for a nice chunk of change and picked up the AppleTV. At the time, I was trying to use the Mac Mini as an HTPC but wasn't too aggressive about really tapping its power. That's why I thought AppleTV might be a better alternative. I've mostly liked my AppleTV experience, but here are some reasons why I think Apple may drop AppleTV once they have liquidated inventory.

1. For an unspecified period of time, browsing genres on AppleTV (OS 2.4) has been "broken", no longer listing all movies in genre browsing but cutting it off so only a certain number of titles show. Sometimes this cuts off around the "B" or "C" section, if the genre has a large number of titles.

2. At the last iPod/iTunes event, Apple introduced the iTunes movie rental extras available through iTunes, but only available on a computer actually running iTunes. This hasn't (yet?) been extended to the AppleTV, where it would naturally belong as well.

[Regarding points 1 and 2, it is odd to me that Apple would not want to include the AppleTV in making a big splash with these iTunes Movie extras and would also leave the AppleTV browsing experience "broken" for as long as it has been. I would think that Apple would have announced the iTunes movie extras available on the AppleTV too, with a software update that would have also addressed the browsing issue if Apple were committed to the AppleTV platform.]

3. Some people want AppleTV to have a disc drive (yours truly included) to be able to watch movies we already own on DVD/Blu-Ray. Because that cuts into Apple's business model for the AppleTV as an iTunes movie rental device, I'm just not convinced it will ever happen.

4. I've read in several places around the internet about the desire people have for AppleTV to have DVR-like capabilities, or even include full-fledged DVR functionality. Again, this doesn't seem to cohere with Apple's business model for AppleTV. Additionally, it would seem from the selection of movies available through AppleTV/iTunes Store that Apple isn't having the best of luck with getting movie studios to make large portions of their libraries available through iTunes. Apple adding a DVR-like function to AppleTV probably wouldn't make movie/TV studios any happier.

5. I've read in some places about AppleTV users desire to be able to plug in a keyboard/mouse and browse online, basically making AppleTV a mini "Mac Mini" (sort of). Others have wanted to be able to add storage with external drives; still others, access to online streaming content on Hulu and other sites.

[Regarding points 3, 4 and 5, I remember the survey Apple did of AppleTV owners several months back, asking them how they use AppleTV; I don't remember if the survey also asked about desired additional functionality. It could be that Apple learned from the survey that most users wanted either an optical drive or DVR-like functionality, or both. If so, Apple may have decided that their business model for AppleTV was no longer worth supporting because they aren't going to move from their position on points 3 and 4.]

6. The only "refresh" the AppleTV has received recently was dropping the price on the 160GB version and dropping the 40GB. No OS refresh or added functionality. Meanwhile, we are now getting reports of a refresh to the Mac Mini that would seem to indicate something more than just a spec-refresh.

7. Currently, the Mac Mini has the following features many users have been asking for in AppleTV: an optical drive, DVR-like functionality (using the EyeTV), full OS that can be controlled with a keyboard/mouse (including online browsing with Safari), ability to stream content from other providers (Hulu, etc.), and access to iTunes movie extras via iTunes 9, along with iTunes "sharing" to other Mac computers in a users' home. Also, there is now support in Snow Leopard for High Definition TV screens.

So here's what I've concluded:

I think Apple realized (maybe from the survey or online forums - or both) that what most AppleTV users wanted from AppleTV was not in the AppleTV business model, and the Mac Mini is better suited for the wanted functionality, which is why there seems to be new life breathed into the Mac Mini recently. Apple dropped the 40GB AppleTV, dropped the price on the 160GB AppleTV aggressively to clear out inventory, in anticipation of discontinuing the AppleTV altogether and merging some of AppleTV's functionality with the forthcoming Mac Mini refresh. Right now, the only things really missing from the Mac Mini are the typical television display connectors (HDMI, etc.) and more AppleTV-style UI.

This is why I think the Mac Mini that Apple will be introducing in a few weeks will be more suited as an out-of-the-box home theater PC with a better Front Row/AppleTV-style interface and the proper TV display outputs.

I'm just trying to decide if I am convinced of this enough to try and EBay my AppleTV before the Mac Mini refresh so I can get as much out of my AppleTV before it becomes obsolete and put that money toward the purchase of a new Mac Mini.


  • Reply 1 of 6
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    Remember that the ATV is less than half the price of the Mini though. Also, some of the reasons you mention are why Apple won't pull a switcheroo with the ATV and Mini. Although adding a drive adds features for users, it adds cost, affects their business model and DVD isn't future-proof. I guess if they add in some upscaling it could be ok.

    I personally see a move to the NVidia Ion platform. Smaller form factor, runs cooler, better graphics performance for gaming (can play Call of Duty 4), can do 1080p output:


    As for cost, Acer can put out a very nice Ion box for $200:


    Apple's ATV is $230 with the same hard drive size now and the Acer is a full PC desktop machine.

    Having Ion allows them to have games for it on the app-store and it becomes a Wii-like device.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    The next Mac mini refresh could very well be an AppleTV-Mini merger IMO. They both are two of the "worse" (relatively speaking of course, in popularity to MacBook/Pro, iPhone, iPod) Apple product lines.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Just like the iMac, Apple has to embrace BluRay and give the option to the consumer. Digital downloads and all that is great but the feature of BluRay playback ability is just too glaring to dismiss. Despite iTunes Extras (which is shockingly absent from AppleTV).

    DVR and Internet browsing should be covered by the fact the new [Macmini-appleTV] hybrid runs Snow Leopard, has USB ports. DVR functionality requires external thingy, I don't think Apple would push hard to have *that* aspect integrated since EyeTV is useful, and so on.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    If the next mini is Atom based and designed as a living room mac, I could see this. It would require a pretty substantial price drop though.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Nah, my take is that those things are borked on the aTV not because they're going to kill it but because they're going to move from Intel to ARM CoretexA9 with PowerVR SGX for the aTV in 2010.

    So all the aTV devs are busy porting to the iPhone OSX, redesigning the interface and integration with the iPod Touch and iPhones as BT or WiFi controllers for aTV for screen navigation and...other potential applications.

    I'm thinking that $229 for a 160GB aTV and iPod Touch games might make for a compelling entry in the living room and banish Apple products from Nintendo hallways and presentations forever...

    The only downside to the iPod Touch as a controller is no physical feedback so the virtual buttons have to be fairly big unless someone makes a dock sleeve for the touch with dpad, analog stick and shoulder buttons. Probably need that with a big ol' strap for some accelerometer games anyway.

    Or not...but that's my hope.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,276member
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post

    Nah, my take is that those things are borked on the aTV not because they're going to kill it but because they're going to move from Intel to ARM CoretexA9 with PowerVR SGX for the aTV in 2010.


    In fact I'm kind of curious as to what hardware will be running the tablet and if that processor is going to also be in the next ATV.

    Atom is a no go. If Apple wanted to use Atom they would have done so by now. ARM's pipeline for product simply looks better from a power/watt ratio.

    Next year we should start seeing dual core A9 ARM processors and that mated with good HD decoding should prove as cheap and more power efficient than a Atom running a GPU based system.

    I look at the changes to iTunes with the LP format and the new video features and I realize that Apple TV is definitely not dead. I can wait until next year for some new kick ass hardware.
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