TechCrunch is speculating that a new Apple TV set top box may be waiting in the wings for this holiday season. Both Amazon and Best Buy recently reduced Apple TV’s price to $89 from the original retail of $99 (which Apple is still selling it for). Amazon also distinguished that this is the “2010″ version of the product. (Update: It now reads “Latest Version” on Amazon). The scuttlebutt is that the new Apple TV will be powered by a version of the A5 processor which is already used in the iPad and the iPhone 4S.
The A5 would give Apple TV the horsepower to provide 1080P video and potentially a Siri-like voice control interface. AppleInsider reported last July that Apple had laid the groundwork to enable 1080P content in the iTunes store. Apple provided the label “HD+” to describe 1080P content. Poking around with our hex editor, we did find a few references to “HD+” in the latest version of iTunes on the Mac.
The theory is that the price drop is a way to clear out inventory before the new model arrives. While the TechCrunch article thinks it would have to happen in the next few days for the holiday season, I think it’s already too late.
If Apple TV was only sold directly by Apple, it could be pulled off for this holiday shopping season. However, Apple TV is sold by a number of retail and on-line outlets. Retailers are locked and loaded for the holiday season. They’ve already laid out their shelf space. Ad space is prepared for Black Friday sales. Everything has been carefully planned and someone would have already noticed a new part number at one of these outlets.
I think it’s more likely the price cut is to remain competitive. In addition to their current models, Roku just introduced it’s $49 Roku LT which also streams Netflix and a variety of other channels at 720P. Apple TV does have the advantage of being the best way to stream your iTunes songs and video into the living room. While Apple TV also has its great interface and ease of use going for it, the Western Digital Live TV and Sony SMP-N200 can also stream content from your local network, offer 1080P and cost $99. The bottom line is that this is a crowded space and a price drop is a good way to get some buzz.
Update (11/17): I’m back from doing some field research. The local Apple store is stocked with “lots” of Apple TVs.
Update (12/1): 9to5Mac has reported evidence of a new Apple TV in the latest beta release of iOS 5.1 software.
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