Apple TV 4K might be one of the best streaming devices you can buy, but it’s far from the cheapest. With a starting price of $179 for the 32GB model, rising to $199 for the 64GB version, it’s prohibitively expensive for those that just want to supplement their TVs’ streaming options with extra channels, and hard to justify when Chomecast, Fire TV and Roku do the same for so much less.
According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — someone with an extremely strong track record when it comes to predicting Apple’s movements — the company will be rectifying this later in the year with cut-back hardware to better compete with the more budget friendly options.
“Apple will launch a new version of Apple TV that improves cost structure in 2H22,” Kuo tweeted (opens in new tab). “I think that Apple's aggressive strategy of integrating hardware, content, and service amid the recession will help close the gap with its competitors.”
What this will actually look like is anybody’s guess, but competitors have been able to get compelling offerings into streaming sticks that plug straight into an HDMI port, without needing a physical box. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Chromecast with Google TV are both available for $50, and the Amazon TV Stick 4K Max comes in at just $5 more. It seems unlikely that Apple will drop the price to quite these levels, but never say never.
Apple will launch a new version of Apple TV that improves cost structure in 2H22. I think that Apple's aggressive strategy of integrating hardware, content, and service amid the recession will help close the gap with its competitors.May 13, 2022
The Apple difference
Of course, Apple TV 4K isn’t more expensive just because it’s Apple. Not only does it have a clever remote with Siri built in, but it packs the A12 Bionic chip. That’s the same processor found in the iPhone XS, making it significantly faster than almost every other streaming option, bar the Nvidia Shield with its competitive Tegra X1+ processor. It’s also what makes it a viable gaming platform, and a big selling point for those with Apple Arcade subscriptions.
If hitting a competitive price point means dropping that power and the ability to play games, then that would be a bit of a blow to Apple. But in the greater scheme of things, it's probably not as big a blow as losing ground in the streaming war to the likes of Amazon.
While you can get Apple TV Plus on any number of other devices now, a competitively priced Apple branded TV stick could push the content harder, potentially driving subscriptions to those firmly in the company’s ecosystem, and stealing some much needed market share.
There’s no suggestion that a cheaper streaming platform would actively replace Apple TV 4K, either, so maybe there’s room enough for both of them? If Kuo is correct, we’ll find out in the second half of the year.