Apple TV deal pairs set-top box with iTunes gift card, signals new version

Apple TV deals
Apple TV deal is really a fire sale Siren

Apple has a tempting promotion in the US that pairs its Apple TV with an iTunes gift card worth $25 (about £15/AU$28), but it may signal the worldwide release of a new set-top box is imminent.

This Apple TV deal, currently available in US stores and online, lasts until March 5, according to the fine print of the terms and conditions.

That's right around the time the company is expected to announce its next app-filled streaming device, the Apple TV 4.

Retailers are known for tipping off product refreshes with deep discounts on previous models. Best Buy did exactly that earlier this month with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch right before Samsung announced the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit.

What's in store for Apple TV 4

Apple hasn't officially confirmed the existence of a new Apple TV, but code within iOS 7 references "Apple TV 4,1," which indicates a refresh is on the way.

Rumors suggest proper game and controller support for Apple TV 4. At the moment, the little black box uses the iPhone and iPad as a controller through somewhat laggy AirPlay.

It may also open up a Game Store or App Store beyond the pre-installed apps that make Apple TV a closed ecosystem. Google's Chromecast recently did that with a developer-friendly SDK.

Apple has also reportedly been talking to cable TV provider Time Warner about a live TV and on-demand app. Comcast's purchase of Time Warner may have tabled those talks, though.

Apple TV is big business

Just because the current Apple TV is experiencing a fire sale doesn't mean that Apple is looking to offload an underperforming product.

In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed to shareholders today that the little set-top box helped the company accrue more than $1 billion (about £596m, AU$1.1b) in revenue in 2013.

"That hobby was over a billion dollars of revenue last year," said Cook during the company's annual meeting with shareholders in comments picked up by CNET.

"It's a little hard to call it a hobby anymore," he surmised, noting that he once referred to the often-neglected Apple TV as a hobby box.

With Cook putting more emphasis on the performance of Apple TV in tandem with a sale on the current version that's nearly 2-years-old, a refresh certainly seems around the corner.

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