Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new set-top box is finally here. Not only do the first shipments go out today, but the completely overhauled Apple TV also launches at the company's retail stores this morning, according to 9to5Mac. As some consumers consider buying the device, we have to ask: Is the new device really any better than competition like Roku or Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Fire TV?
Good, but not revolutionary
How good is the new Apple TV? And is it worth buying? The Verge seems to echo other reviewers in its conclusion about the device:
So there's the promise, and then there's reality. And the reality right now is that the new Apple TV is the nicest TV streaming box available. But it is basically the same idea as every other streaming box out there. It just has tons and tons of extra potential.
So, if you need to buy a new TV streaming box, you should buy it. You'll be very happy with it. But if you don't actually need to buy one, I'd wait. I'd wait for a future Apple TV with 4K support, better apps, and hopefully a bigger push from Apple toward the real future of TV.
The main features of the new Apple TV include an app store, Siri integration, and a new operating system called tvOS. But all of this sounds similar to the voice integration, app store, and operating system for competing devices like Amazon's Fire TV. Sure, Apple's new set-top box may be a step up from competition in some areas, such as the Siri remote with its own accelerometer, gyroscope, and touch surface, but none of the Apple TV advantages are notable enough to merit an upgrade from the latest streaming devices made by competitors.
The TV race
While the Apple TV may help the company solidify its position as the leader in the evolving TV space, it's increasingly evident that the competition is just as eager to raise the bar.
Consider Amazon's efforts. The e-commerce giant's obvious war with Apple in the streaming TV space illustrates how serious the company is about competing with Apple. Amazon is reportedly discontinuing sales of Apple TV and Google Chromecast in its online store. Further, an Amazon Prime app won't be found on the new Apple TV.
"Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime," Amazon said in an email sent to vendors (via The Verge) explaining the decision. "It's important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion."
The race to provide the most revolutionary TV experience for users in streaming TV is likely to continue to be intense.
But are Apple's sudden leap to the top and its change of heart -- to treat the business as more than a hobby -- signals of what's to come?
Fortunately for investors, the publicly traded tech companies making streaming devices both don't necessarily need to "win" over competitors to succeed and are dependent on sales of the device (or sales on the device) for their business. Further, the set-top box space represents a medium for companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon to enhance their user experiences more than it serves as a way to open the doors to growth potential. And even if there is business growth potential in the space -- and there's probably at least some -- there's no reason the space can't be shared.
Meanwhile, the competitive nature of the segment should continue to benefit consumers and provide them with increasingly better options.
Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares), Amazon.com, and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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 has a disclosure policy.
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