New Apple TV takes off with 1 million sold in fourth quarter 2010

second generation apple tv

The new Apple TV is a quarter-size of the original. Image: CC BeauGiles/Flickr

Apple TV, once called merely a “hobby” by Steve Jobs, has become a serious pursuit for Apple. Apple announced Tuesday that it will reach fourth quarter sales of 1 million second generation Apple TV units this week. Future Apple TV sales may be helped by news that some notoriously slow Apple TV downloads could be caused by Google DNS.

New Apple TV gains momentum

Apple TV was introduced three years ago to a tepid response. But Apple has sold more of the second generation Apple TV in the last three months than in the entire time since the technology debuted in 2007. Apple also announced that Apple TV users stream more than 400,000 TV episodes and more than 150,000 movies daily. The first generation of Apple TV wasn’t a priority for Apple. While new iterations of other Apple products were introduced with great fanfare on an annual basis, Apple TV gathered dust on the shelf. Until now, Apple TV was never mentioned in Apple quarterly earnings reports. But the new Apple TV is a radical departure from the original.

How the new Apple TV is different

The most notable difference in the new Apple TV, other than the $99 price, is its tiny size–the set-top box fits in the palm of one’s hand. The new Apple TV is a quarter of the size of its predecessor because Apple figured out that people don’t care about storing video content. The new Apple TV is dedicated to streaming video content. In addition to iTunes video content, Apple TV streams Netflix, podcasts and Flickr. Apple TV Users can stream music from their computers and use AirPlay to beam multimedia content from their iPhone to their TV. The device also has the potential to run Apple TV-specific apps using iOS developer tools.

Apple TV and Google DNS don’t mix

The original Apple TV used a cheap Intel processor and an NVIDIA graphics chip running a version Mac OS X. The new Apple TV uses Apple’s A4 processor and iOS drives an Apple TV interface. However, downloads of Apple TV content were often reported to be very slow, even with the fastest Internet connections. Blogger Joe Mailer traced the problem to Google DNS. Mailer said Akamai delivers iTunes video content via thousands of local servers. Google DNS tries to force all content through one entrance. By switching away from Google DNS, Mailer said he reduced downloads of Apple TV content from more than two hours to about 20 seconds.


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