This, however, could be about to change, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
"The company appears determined to capitalize on its opportunity to bring the iTunes ecosystem to the living room," he wrote, in a recent note. In the coming months, Munster expects Apple TV to add a monthly subscription service for iTunes TV shows or TV recording features such as DVR.
The analyst feels that ad-based Internet TV like Hulu.com and subscription services such as Watch Instantly from Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) are gaining ground on iTunes, which offers one-off purchases.
By tapping into its library of content from network and cable companies, Apple could even offer a monthly subscription service as an alternative to customers' cable bills."While timing on the launch of such a service is very uncertain given the negotiations that would have to take place, Apple may launch it simultaneously with a new version of Apple TV or updated Apple TV software within the next year," explained Munster. Not everyone, though, agrees that Apple needs to offer subscription services, either for TV or music. "There has been a lot of speculation in the past that Apple will offer some type of subscription service and streaming," Sonal Gandhi, media analyst at technology research firm Forrester, told TheStreet.com. "But Apple has a good hold on the a la carte digital download business." Rather than going head-to-head with subscription music sites such as Napster, Rhapsody and eMusic, Gandhi thinks that Apple will stick with what it knows.