The Apple TV might still be a hobby, but it's the king of the set-top box market, researcher Strategy Analytics says.
By the end of the year, worldwide set-top box sales are expected to hit nearly 12 million units, the research firm said yesterday. Apple is expected to sell about 4 million Apple TV units this year, giving it 32 percent market share and the lead against countless other products vying for control in that space, including Roku's line of devices.
Apple launched its latest Apple TV last year. The device allows users to stream movies, television shows, and music, and includes access to a host of services, including Netflix. It's currently on sale for $99.
When Apple announced the new Apple TV last year, the company made it clear that it was no longer the "hobby" Steve Jobs had called its predecessor. But over the last year, the Apple TV has been largely ignored by the iPhone maker, making some wonder if it might still deserve that title.
Apple's apparent apathy might be hurting the wider market. Strategy Analytics said in its report that 8 percent of American households have a set-top box connected to their televisions. In Europe, that figure is 7 percent.
Even worse, next year, Apple might not do much to help that market, if the latest rumors suggesting the company is looking to launch a television are true.
Late last month, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that Apple will launch its long-rumored television in 2012, complete with all the services found in the Apple TV (and then some). At the Business Insider Ignition: Future of Media Conference, Munster said that Apple believes consumers want an all-in-one television that isn't tied down to an external box, like the Apple TV.
For its part, Apple hasn't confirmed that it's planning to launch a television. However, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that he had "cracked" the code for delivering a fully integrated television, prompting many to believe the set is coming sooner rather than later.