Apple TV: Hobbyist No More

Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) newest software for Apple TV allows users to stream live content from MLB.tv and the NBA's League Pass service. Interested users will pay $20 a month or $99 a year for MLB.tv while NBA League Pass usually costs around $200 per year.

As one-offs, neither partnership means much. But look at Apple TV as a whole, and you'll find a rapidly maturing platform for televised and filmed entertainment.

The Mac maker's partner roster stretches from News Corp.'s (Nasdaq: NWS  ) 20th Century Fox and Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) studios in movies to the major TV networks to digital video distributors YouTube and Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) . And now, you can add big-time sports to the list.

I see an ecosystem forming. Unlike Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Prime or Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) search-centric Google TV offering, Apple TV is combining hardware, software, and distribution into a compelling and easy-to-set-up whole. A Mac for your living room, in other words.

Consider AirPlay, which allows an iPad or other iOS device to control playback on Apple TV. By itself, the feature doesn't mean much. But when you consider estimates call for tens of millions of iPad 2s to be sold this year alone -- and with both the iPad and Apple TV built to aggregate great content from a wide variety of sources -- it looks as if Apple is creating an interesting entertainment hub.

I'm not the only one who thinks so. Dan Frommer over at Business Insider recently found the $99 Apple TV to be Amazon's 10th-best-selling electronics device. Pretty compelling for a product that was once considered a hobby.

Apple can't say that anymore. This is no hobby; it's a business. And by the looks of it, a well-positioned business that could bring billions to a company already blessed with too much cash. Well-played, Apple.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about Apple TV, the battle for the living room, and what all this means for the traditional cable operators using the comments box below.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google and has written Apple puts. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy asks is waiting for you to shuffle up and deal.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2011, at 12:10 PM, 7large wrote:

    I'm certainly a big fan of AppleTV2 - MLB add is ok. The blackout of games on MLB barely makes it worth it though. ATV needs Apps, a browser and more streaming flexibility. I like to believe Apple is heading this way. This latest update certainly gives me more hope. It is huge opportunity for Apple to dominate in the next revolution of TV. I dropped Cable TV (Comcast) months ago. In a family of five, no one misses it. BUT, I will miss getting the Red Sox every night, at least without connecting my Mac via HDMI to my TV and streaming from from a P2P site that has the games. I'm long AAPL.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2011, at 3:39 PM, Brent2223 wrote:

    Love AppleTV2. Been looking at a wireless media hub for a while now, can't beat the $99 price and as with everything Apple setup is a breeze. With iOS 4.3 Airplay will be truely awesome (3rd party apps will be compatable). And I can finally use my iPhone as a remote, really cool.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2011, at 4:05 PM, doublearon00 wrote:

    I am just an Apple fan period. One thing though, I have been using an app to control my Apple TV through my iphone and ipad for a while so the Air play really is nothing new. However, the apple tv is so awesome! It is located in my bedroom on the other side of the house from my wireless router and I have no problems with streaming. In perspective, I have an Xbox and a Vizio TV in my living room which is closer to where my router is located and have all sorts of problems with streaming. Should note though, Xbox live for gaming no problems only using Netflix or Zune to stream movies have I had problems.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2011, at 5:41 PM, dandles2020 wrote:

    I love my AppleTV2. It streams everything off my Itunes perfectly, and I love the Netflix on demand. However, really ... no web browser? Seems strange.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2011, at 7:43 PM, DavidBernhard wrote:

    I work at a large, public university and come into 1:1 contact with dozens of students daily. While I admit to not knowing a lot about Apple TV, I just spent 15 minutes talking to a 21 yr old student who was VERY excited about both the product and the MLB addition. I get most of my leads for investment research from students, and while Apple doesn't take much research, it is interesting to hear a student mimic a Fool article within days of each other.

  • Report this Comment On March 11, 2011, at 7:59 PM, sunvalleyfool wrote:

    Of course they will pull off AppleTV—listen to what the fans are saying: "We are fans, not customers." Ever hear of a Microsoft fan, or a Hewlett-Packard fan? These AAPL fans were using Macs since the invention of the Mouse because no child could deal with MS Dos, nor could many parents, and they all could fly a Mac. They have a feeling of loyalty to Apple. They are the generation that will rule the country in a few years, and they are very different from their parents. Apple is the Coke of their generation.

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