Apple iPhone fans by and large are eagerly anticipating the launch of the iPhone 8, the next-generation handset that will mark the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone. However, that is not the only electronic gadget Apple is planning to unveil next month. Tim Cook and the Cupertino gang will trot out a new Apple TV set-top box, one that will be upgraded 4K streaming and high dynamic range (HDR) support.
The streaming device sector is a crowded field these days with competitive solutions such as Google's Chromecast, Amazon's Fire TV, and of course the Roku. Versions of all three of these popular devices support 4K streaming, while both the Chromecast Ultra and Roku Ultra support HDR as well (Amazon is reportedly working on a version of Fire TV that will add HDR).
Apple has been kind of quiet in the streaming front, but is looking to double down on its efforts to infiltrate the living room, especially now that 4K televisions are the norm (in the marketplace) and not the exception. It is a bit of an uphill battle—Apple trails the competition with just a 15 percent share of the set-top market in the US, according to a survey by Parks Associates. Furthermore, Apple CFO Luca Maestri indicated to Bloomberg News earlier this year that Apple TV sales had declined year-over-year in the holiday quarter.
An upgraded Apple TV could help Apple bounce back. Of course, to take full advantage of the new Apple TV, consumers will need to attach it to a 4K-capable TV that supports HDR. While most new TVs sport 4K panels, ones with HDR are not quite as ubiquitous in the marketplace.
There could also be a bigger play here from Apple. It has long been rumored that Apple would build its own 4K TV, and supposedly it had begun testing a model a few months ago. We do not expect Apple to announce anything of the sort during its September iPhone 8 event, though that would be one way to make a big splash in the category. Things could also get interesting with an Apple TV set that has Siri infused.
The Apple TV set-top box is one of several new products on tap from Apple. It's been reported that Apple will launch not one but three iPhone models next month, along with a new Apple Watch wearable with LTE cellular connectivity.