The Apple TV is a great product for getting digital films and TV onto your, well, TV. But it’s in staunch competition with the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast, two much cheaper alternatives.
It’s no secret that price puts a lot of people off Apple TV, even if it does have a few unique features and advantages. But to most buyers, a £179/$179 Apple TV 4K is not as attractive as a £49/$49 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
But it seems Apple is considering a cheaper Apple TV, even if rumours are scarce.
When is the Apple TV Stick coming out?
At the moment, there is no rumoured release date for an Apple TV Stick or dongle. But Apple is launching its streaming service in 2019, so that year would make sense.
How much will the Apple TV Stick cost?
If it ever came to exist, an Apple TV Stick would have to cost at least half its current cheapest £149/$149 model to realistically compete on scale with Amazon and Google. Apple always charges a premium, so we think it’d be around £79/$79.
What Apple TV Stick rumours are there?
The most concrete report so far about a cheap Apple TV Stick is from The Information in November 2018. It said that Apple “has had internal discussions about introducing a low-priced streaming “dongle” that people could plug into the back of their TV sets, similar to Amazon’s Fire Stick or Google’s Chromecast” after interviewing anonymous sources.
This is in light of Apple’s upcoming proper move into a video streaming service with original content to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Currently these programmes will only be available to Apple TV, iPhones and iPads as per Apple’s software restrictions with the Apple TV app.
The cheapest and easiest way for most people to stream Netflix or Prime Video on their TVs is to buy a cheap Fire Stick that plugs straight into an HDMI port on the TV and then connects to home Wi-Fi to stream those services. The model relies on people subscribing to those services separately.
Apple TV is a slightly different play as you get the advantage of an integrated iTunes Store and access to Apple Music alongside all content you’ve purchased from Apple on your Apple ID. While people entrenched in the Apple ecosystem benefit no end from this, many see the base Apple TV too expensive to consider if all they really want to do is stream a bit of Netflix or watch BBC iPlayer (a free service).
Despite this fact, there is still a degree of speculation about a potential cheaper Apple TV. Apple is, after all, a premium brand with premium prices to match. It might not want to dilute the Apple TV experience.
But with the company’s 2019 step into original content streaming war, a cheaper entry point for Apple TV could only help get the content – and Apple TV devices – into more homes. An Apple TV Stick would likely have some restrictions or fewer features than the more expensive models (less storage, no Ethernet, no Dolby Atmos) but would no doubt capture a whole new audience who can currently buy three Amazon Fire Stick 4K devices and have £30/$30 change instead of buying one Apple TV 4K.
Confused? We are a bit too, to be honest. Basically, this report shows Apple is thinking about a cheap Apple TV Stick. And if you’re all in on the Apple ecosystem then you’re going to benefit from picking it over another company’s alternative.
We’ll bring you more news on the Apple TV Stick as and when we get it.
Here are all the rumours for the next Apple TV proper, too.