What Apple’s Latest Quiet Move Could Mean for the Future of Apple TV

October 5, 2016, 3:51 PM UTC
Digital Life Apple TV Review
FILE - This Sept. 9, 2015, file photo shows the new Apple TV during a product display following an Apple event in San Francisco. The newly overhauled Apple TV is not just for video, photos and music anymore, but a way to bring to the big screen just about anything you can do on a phone or tablet. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Eric Risberg — AP

The third-generation Apple TV has at long last been discontinued.

The tech giant sent an email on Tuesday to its store employees and education partners informing them that the company has discontinued the third-generation Apple TV released in 2012 and upgraded in 2013, according to Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac, which obtained a copy of the email. Apple is still selling refurbished third-generation Apple TV models for $59 and will fulfill any orders currently in transit. The company hasn’t made any change to pricing or availability on the fourth-generation Apple TV it released last year.

Fortune contacted several Apple retail stores across the U.S.—all of which confirmed that the third-generation Apple TV has been discontinued.

“The future of TV is apps and our customers love the experience of controlling the new Apple TV with voice and touch through the Siri Remote, while developers have responded by creating over 6000 apps across many categories,” an Apple spokesperson told Fortune in an emailed statement. “So we’ve decided to focus entirely on this app-centered TV experience with the new Apple TV.”

The decision is the latest hint that Apple (AAPL) is planning to launch a new Apple TV this year.

Rumors have surfaced in recent weeks that Apple will release a new Apple TV in time for the holidays. Like the fourth-generation model, the rumored fifth-generation Apple TV is expected to run on Apple’s tvOS operating system. It’s unknown whether the next Apple TV will offer a major upgrade over its predecessor, but recent leaks have suggested the device could come with a more powerful processor and perhaps support for both Bluetooth and near-field communication technology that allows iPhone owners to make mobile purchases in retail stores with Apple Pay.

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The Apple TV was notoriously regarded as a “hobby” after the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs called it that several years ago. Although it was largely ignored by Apple, the company has started to pay it more attention in recent years. The third-generation model was a tiny black box designed for users to stream content like movies, television shows, and music to television sets. It had little storage and only supported the apps Apple had pushed to the device.

The fourth-generation Apple TV, however, was a major departure for the company and ushered in the idea that the device was shedding its “hobby” status. Last year’s model included two storage options and allowed users to download apps through its built-in App Store to the device. It was also the first from Apple to run on its tvOS operating system.

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Since then, Apple has offered both the third-generation and fourth-generation models to customers. However, its focus has been on tvOS and getting more customers to move to the newer hardware.

Now that it’s discontinued the third-generation Apple TV, Apple might be making room for its next-generation model to accompany the fourth-generation option on store shelves. Rumors abound that Apple will be holding a press event later this month where it could announce a new Apple TV alongside new Macs.

Update at 12:13 p.m. ET to include Apple’s statement.

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