NEW YORK (AP) — Apple Inc. is on the verge of selling 1 million of its Apple TV set-top boxes, the company said Tuesday. The Cupertino, Calif. company expects to reach that milestone sometime this week.
Apple TV is a small box that connects to a television, much like TiVo Inc.'s set-top box or the kind that cable companies provide. Once connected, U.S. customers can rent high-definition movies for 99 cents apiece through iTunes, the same software consumers already use to download music, movies, TV episodes, e-books and iPhone apps.
According to Apple, iTunes users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and 150,000 movies per day.
The device also allows people to stream movies from their personal computer, iPhone or iPad directly to the television, watch movies through Netflix's on-demand service, view photos stored on the sharing site Flickr and peruse YouTube videos.
In all of these scenarios, the box's streaming feature averts a messier setup in which people would have to connect a laptop to their television using a cable and then, for example, search for YouTube videos on the laptop.
The box, which costs $99, has been on sale since late September. With this version, Apple slashed the price from $229, made the design more compact and introduced marquee features such as the 99-cent movie rentals and access to Netflix's on-demand service.
Apple TV has long been one of the company's lesser-known products. Steve Jobs, the company's chief executive officer, used to refer to the product as a "hobby," an implicit acknowledgment that the set-top box was more of a niche product than, say, a Mac computer or an iPhone. Apple has dropped that moniker since announcing the current-generation Apple TV.
Indeed, Apple TV is hardly the blockbuster hit that the iPhone and iPad have been: Apple sold 1 million iPads within its first 28 days on sale, for example.