Apple sold 1.3 million Apple TV devices during the June quarter, an increase of 170 percent over the same quarter a year ago.

That still qualifies as a “hobby,” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who disclosed the number in response to an analyst’s question on the company’s earnings conference call. But here’s an interesting data point: Microsoft sold 1.1 million Xbox 360s worldwide during the same time period.

Of course, they are different products, targeting different segments of the market. But not entirely. Apple TV and Xbox 360 have more and more in common as Microsoft adds features to its game console to make it more of a general purpose entertainment machine, tapping into a wide variety of online video sources.

The trend also reflects the general decline in the game console market. Microsoft has been leading the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii in the U.S. (and worldwide last year) but Xbox 360 sales have still been declining year-over-year along with the market.

Apple still has a long way to go in the bigger picture. So far this fiscal year (spanning three quarters) the company has sold 4 million Apple TVs, according to Cook. Over the same time period, including the big holiday shopping season, Microsoft has sold more than 10 million Xbox 360.

[Update: I should also point out the price differences: $99 for the Apple TV, compared with $199 for the 4GB Xbox 360. (Thanks, Richard, for pointing this out.)]

All told, since launch, Microsoft has sold more than 65 million Xbox 360s.

Speculation about Apple’s plans in the TV market was fueled by comments made by Steve Jobs to his biographer before his death. During the call today, Cook said the company plans to continue investing in Apple TV. He noted that many people in the company believe strongly in the product.

“We do it because we think it will lead us somewhere,” he said.

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  • Guest

    How much revenue does an Apple TV generate in content revenue for Apple? By contrast, how much does Xbox 360 generate in revenue? The latter is simply more mature as a business model — Apple TV doesn’t generate a $60/year subscription for streaming video services, for example, and so it is a much worse proposition for Apple.

    • gjgustav

      Apple hasn’t said how much AppleTV owners spend on content. $60/year is only one movie rental per month. Then add in TV show purchases, music purchases, etc.

      • Guest

        Apple brags about its sales, so if Apple TV owners were really spending that much from their devices, Steve or Tim would have said something right now. Apple’s silence speaks loudly.

        • gjgustav

          Neither of us know. I don’t believe it’s as much as MS, but I don’t believe it’s nothing. Regardless, I don’t think Apple’s trying to build an XBox anyway.

    • Steven Noyes

      My old roommates each had a 360 and neither paid $60/year for streaming media.

      • Guest

        Legitimate streaming media bears a $60/year fee. Streaming DivX vids from your PC is still free, but we wouldn’t recommend that as a business model.

    • ripoff

      Does EVERYONE have Xbox live? I think not. In fact, the fact that you have to have Xbox live to even use Netflix seems like a ripoff to me.

      • Guest

        Requiring a subscription to use Netflix is an excellent proposition for Microsoft and a way to extract some $400 over 7 years over and above the price paid for the console, accessories, and gaming content. Microsoft has a license to print money. Its competition has a hobby.

  • Shiverus

    I don’t see how you can compare apples
    to oranges. Xbox is a consul and is something people have to be at home to
    watch…. Apple is a tablet phone and computer company.
    What gets me is people still try to compare Apple that creates its own products to go with there IOS to a software company that depends on other companies to put out a product.

    • bwhartmann

      the xbox is not an orange.

      • CodeLord

        I think he meant Apple is orange, and Microsoft is Apple… or something like that.

    • bwhartmann

      on a more serious note….. how did you even attempt to logic this? xbox is a console made my microsoft. appletv is a set-top box made by apple. that doesn’t mean microsoft is a “game console” business. they’re comparing the products, not the companies overall business and product strategy. you have to be at home to watch an appletv too (well, i suppose you could take one on the go since theyre small enough. [
      Xbox is a consul and is something people have to be at home to watch….].

      try to put together a reasonable argument next time

    • Steven Noyes


      I really do not understand this logic at all. Do you know what AppleTV is?

    • Dave Marcoot

      They both compete for the same revenue source, people who want to be entertained in front of their TV’s and who might pay for media and games. They are both apples. Apple is software company that makes hardware, and in the case of the xBox, so is MS in this instance. Get a clue

  • Bejan Siavoshy

    Well, and this is speculating, if their recent patent of 5D technology is integrated into their TV systems in the future, their coming TV iterations will definitely be something interesting. It will also be cool to see what patents and ideas competitors in the TV space will come up with.

    • CodeLord

      It would be still interesting if they don’t patent their ideas you know.

  • Guest

    I’ve been saying this for more than a year. MS’s main competition for ‘owning the livingroom’ is Apple, not Sony or Nintendo. And because ATV is cheaper and aimed squarely at average consumers instead of gamers, it will soon easily outsell Xbox. Just another market where MS had a decade head start but is now being disrupted by Apple.

  • Kee

    Really dumb guesses. There is a market saturation for living room sets, so xBox is already there. Unlike ATV

  • Kevin Newburn

    The Xbox 360 is in the 7th year of it’s lifespan, let’s see how many Apple TVs are selling 7 years from now.

  • Halloweenhead

    To call this comparison a poor one would be an understatement.

    • Tylor Ray Gallagher

      a Xbox is for gaming, and entertainment. a apple tv set is a gimmick, and can only get real use from those with iproduct.
      also the xbox has bin out for 7 years, the next xbox should be coming out next year, also so what if just now its catching up, its also competing agenst ps3, wii, and soon wii u, smart tvs, and any one with their computer hooked up to there’re tv. even roko or what ever its called. this is just silly for every apple tv sold, that’s one more person who well use it 3 times, then just wait for that real reason to turn it on

  • kegill

    Todd- it would be interesting to see R&D data and/or unit sales (revenue) versus program costs on a year-by-year basis.

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