Don't hold your breath for an inexpensive Apple TV+ dongle, report claims

(Image credit: Apple)

It has been over 22 months since the launch of Apple's streaming service, Apple TV+, and the Cupertino giant has yet to challenge TV content giants Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and even its younger competitor (by 11 days) Disney Plus

That being said – and despite an allegedly challenging summer – a new report from the Information claims that subscription numbers are actually very healthy (Ted Lasso is a hit, after all) and according to a "person familiar with the matter", the tech behemoth plans to double its output of original TV shows and movies to “at least one a week” in 2022 and to spend more than $500 million marketing TV+ this year.

But the report also includes information on Apple’s abandoned plans for a wallet-friendly Apple TV hardware dongle accessory to sit beneath the excellent, but pricy, Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple is typically tight-lipped on sign-up figures for TV+, but a “person with knowledge of the numbers” told The Information that an analyst estimate of around 40 million subscribers is “roughly accurate as of this summer”, although it's important to note that only around half of those subscribers are paying for the service, while the rest are on free trials of some kind. 

As noted by 9to5Mac, an interesting aside is that while the Information's source says Apple intends to spend $500 million marketing TV+ this year, it will not run paid advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. Further evidence of the ongoing delicate relationships between Facebook and Apple executives? Possibly. According to the source, Apple plans to use some of its marketing budget to bring dedicated TV+ buttons to remotes from other manufacturers, similar to its current deal with Roku.

Now, that inexpensive dongle: the report explains that Tim Twerdahl was the Apple executive championing the project, having joined the company in 2017 after stints at Amazon, Netflix and Roku. Twerdahl reportedly believed that a low-cost Apple TV dongle would “make it much more affordable for people to access Apple’s video-streaming service”, but he was overruled by fellow Apple executives Greg Joswiak and Phil Schiller. The report continues that Joswiak and Schiller "didn’t want Apple getting into the business of making cheap, low-margin devices, and they were concerned that putting Apple’s brand on them would tarnish its reputation for building premium products," adding that Twerdahl has actually departed Apple "in recent months". 

So, no dice there. But if the report is to be believed, we can expect a lot more original Apple TV and movie content coming to Apple TV+ in 2022... 


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.