NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Apple (AAPL) TV is no longer a "hobby" for CEO Tim Cook, who noted to analysts and investors on last night's earnings call that revenue from its streaming device was more than $1 billion in 2013. Apple has sold roughly 20 million of the set-top box since it launched, Cook said.
"The reason that I stripped off the hobby label is that when you look at the sales of the Apple TV box itself, and you look at a content that was bought directly off of Apple TV for 2013, that number was over $1 billion. And so, it didn't feel right to me to refer to something that's over $1 billion as a hobby," Cook said in response to an analyst's question. The chief executive had apparently made a similar comment at its February shareholder meeting. "Also from an investment point of view, we continue to make the product better and better. And so it doesn't feel right from that point of view either," he added.
Still sales of Apple TV are small when compared to iPhones and iPads. Yet as more consumers get comfortable with the notion of Internet TV, the more opportunity there is for Apple as well as its formidable competitors like Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Roku and others.
Earlier this month, Amazon launched Fire TV, its own version of a streaming media device. Amazon is selling the device for $99. Google has said that it has sold "millions" of Google Chromecast, its $35 dongle that allows users to stream content via their smartphone and tablets on their HD TV. Roku sells both a set-top box, starting at $49.99 up to $99.99, depending on the version, and recently launched a dongle to compete with Chromecast, that sells for $49.99. In January, Roku also launched its Roku TV, which will be available this fall in sizes 32-55 inches. Roku has sold approximately 8 million units in the U.S., according to a spokeswoman.