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A million hobbies

The iPod. The iPhone. The iPad. The list of smash-hit Apple products of recent years seems endless. But there's a black sheep: Apple TV. First introduced in 2007, it was Apple's bid to get its products into people's living rooms - and get them downloading films from iTunes. But it never really captured people's imaginations - or their wallets.

Until now, it seems. A few months ago, in addition to announcing the new touchscreen iPod Nano, Apple quietly introduced a radically overhauled Apple TV. It was tiny, small enough to fit in your palm; it abandoned a large hard drive in favour of an all-streaming model, where film rentals were downloaded from iTunes as you watched; and it was dirt cheap, just $99.

And it's selling well - at least, well-ish. Apple say they've sold one million Apple TVs as of last week - not bad, if not stellar, for a product Apple calls 'a hobby'.

On the other hand, it's a fraction of the Kindles Amazon has sold at a similar price point, and indeed, Apple rival Roku also reckons it's going to sell one million of its much less well-known boxes this year. So it's not exactly the big time for Apple TV, but it's not the black sheep of the family any more, either.

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