Apple TV sales approach 1 million

December 21, 2010, 3:33 PM UTC

Steve Jobs’ “hobby” is starting to get some traction. Google TV, not so much.

Photo: Apple Inc.

In a slightly premature press release timed perhaps to goose some last-minute Christmas purchases, Apple (AAPL) announced Tuesday that it expects sales of its $99 Apple TV set-top unit to top 1 million this week. That word comes on top of Steve Jobs’ announcement that Apple had sold 250,000 as of Oct. 18.

Apple was not as forthcoming with sales numbers for the device’s predecessor, a considerably more expensive proposition that came with a built-in hard drive for storing TV shows, movies, songs, photos, etc.

The new Apple TV is strictly for streaming — from iTunes and other sources, such as Netflix (AAPL), Flickr and YouTube. The same press release included some hitherto unreleased iTunes numbers:

  • 400,000 TV episodes rented or purchased per day
  • 150,000 movies rented or purchased per day

As TUAW‘s Michael Rose points out, it’s not clear whether all those transactions involve an Apple TV or not. His guess is “not,” and unless we hear otherwise we’re inclined to agree.

Meanwhile Google (GOOG), stung according to the
New York Times
by bad reviews, has asked TV manufacturers to cancel the launches of sets running Google TV software that were scheduled for the big Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Roku, which makes streaming devices similar to Apple’s, is having better luck. Its sales have doubled since the debut of Apple TV, according to a report in Business Insider, and are on track to pass 1 million before the end of the year.

Below: The text of Apple’s press release.

New Apple TV Sales to Top One Million This Week

CUPERTINO, California—December 21, 2010—Apple® today announced that it expects sales of its new Apple TV® to top one million units later this week. The new Apple TV offers the simplest way to watch your favorite HD movies and TV shows, stream content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe℠, all on your HD TV for the breakthrough price of just $99. iTunes® users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day.

Now with AirPlay®, recently available in iOS 4.2, users can wirelessly stream their music, video and photos from iPad™, iPhone® and iPod touch® to their new Apple TV, making it the perfect iOS accessory. Users can also control Apple TV with their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch using the Remote app, available as a free app on the App Store℠.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]