Apple’s TV business still consists only of an over-the-top streaming media box, and not a proper TV set despite longstanding rumors that kind of hardware was on the way – but it’s showing impressive growth nonetheless. The company sold approximately 10 million Apple TV units last year, according to estimates based on figures Apple CEO Tim Cook offered up at the annual Apple shareholder meeting today.
Apple made over $1 billion in revenue from sales of its Apple TV devices and content in 2013, Cook explained during the meeting with investors, which translates to sales at or around 10 million units, as noted by Asymco’s Horace Dediu. With just over 5 million units sold in 2012, that makes Apple TV the company’s fastest growing hardware product category, according to the analyst, with around 80 percent year-over-year growth.
The growth of Apple TV could be ascribed to any number of factors; there wasn’t a major hardware revision last year for the streaming box, but Apple did add a wealth of new content sources through new partnerships with media companies. 2013 also saw a significant increase in Netflix subscribers, which could have helped its fortunes as that’s a key part of the Apple TV’s consumer appeal.
Apple still hasn’t fielded any television set hardware, but another observer points out that the Apple TV business on its own is now around 1/4 of the entire U.S. flat-panel TV industry, which means there’s probably little incentive for it to join that relatively small race.
Rumors suggest we’ll see refreshed Apple TV hardware coming this spring from Cupertino, and a deal announced today where Apple adds a $25 gift card to every Apple TV purchase seems to indicate Apple is indeed clearing stock to make way for something new. With a refreshed streaming box and more services than ever, we could see 2014 growth for Apple TV beat even last year’s significant upward trend.