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The history behind Apple TV (it actually starts in 1993)

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9 min read
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  • Apple has a long and varied history in the television market, with several failed attempts at integrating TV into their products.
  • Despite past failures, Apple has continued to develop and expand their TV offerings, with their software now available on competing streaming devices and smart TVs.
  • Apple TV offers a range of services, including their own OTT media service called Apple TV+.
  • The company is attempting a double-pronged approach to carve out space in the competitive industry by developing hardware and expanding software offerings.
  • Apple is rumored to unveil a new and more powerful Apple TV with video, apps, and gaming at its core, posing a potential threat to the gaming industry.



Apple TV is one of the latest offerings from tech giant Apple, which has had a long and varied history in the television market. Apple's first attempt at integrating TV came in 1993 with the Macintosh TV, but the product didn't catch on and was soon discontinued. In 1994, Apple developed the Apple Interactive Television Box in collaboration with BT and Belgacom. Although it was tested across the US, it was never sold to the public. Apple tried again in 1996 with the 20th Anniversary Mac, which was equipped with a TV tuner, but this too was unsuccessful. 1993 Macintosh TV, the precursor to the Apple TV of today (2023)Image credit: Ars Technica Just before Steve Jobs returned to the company in the late 90s, Apple launched the Apple Bandai Pippin, which combined a gaming console with a networked computer running a trimmed-down version of System 7. Although it sold around 40,000 units and 20 game products, mainly in the APAC market, it was primarily intended as a gaming machine. Apple Bandai Pippin, Apple's first gaming consoleImage credit: T3 Apple's failures in the television market reflected wider issues within the company, which was in dire straits before Jobs returned and steered it towards greater success. However, Apple's TV ambitions did not disappear, and the company has continued to develop and expand its TV offerings over the years.

Apple TV software is now available on competing streaming devices and smart TVs from most major manufacturers, as well as from every other Apple product. Apple TV offers a range of services, including Music, Apple TV+, and iTunes, that can be accessed using the software from any supporting device. You can also watch content from Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney, and many others. Apple TV with App Store apps including NetflixImage credit: M4VGEAR In addition, Apple has created its own OTT media service called Apple TV+, which is expected to offer a wide range of original TV shows and series, all with an Apple TV brand. This service will be available across all supported devices. Although Apple does not offer its own TV set, it has signed deals with some cable TV operators who now offer Apple TV as an alternative to the regular set-top box. Apple TV Plus logoImage credit: Apple Inc. The company is attempting a double-pronged approach to carve out space in the heavily competitive industry. One strand of this approach involves developing Apple TV as a hardware product, while the other involves expanding Apple's software offerings to other devices.

According to rumors, Apple is set to unveil a new and more powerful Apple TV, which will be designed with video, apps, and gaming at its core. Although Apple has historically shown little interest in gaming, this new offering could represent a significant shift in the company's approach. Other tech giants, such as Microsoft and Sony, have already made inroads into the gaming market with their own systems, and Apple could pose a serious threat to the industry if it enters the market in a significant way.

Apple has a complicated relationship with television, and it remains to be seen how successful its latest efforts will be. However, given the company's track record of innovation and success, it's clear that Apple will continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in the TV market.




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