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Apple explored a TV-streaming dongle as a cheap alternative to Apple TV

With nothing to compete against low-priced streaming sticks from Roku, Amazon and Google, Apple's entry-level Apple TV costs multiples more.

Apple TV 4K

Apple TV costs as much as $199. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple may have flirted with the low end of the streaming-TV market. 

The company considered a low-priced streaming-TV dongle, similar to Google Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Streaming Stick, according to a Wednesday report by The Information, citing people familiar with the matter. The device could have served as a lower-priced entry point to unlock access to Apple's rumored TV service, which some reports claim will be free for people with iPhones, iPads or Apple TV devices. 

Apple declined to comment. 

Apple has a history of making premium products with price tags to match, and its TV players are no exception. Apple TV's entry-level box costs $149, multiples more than lowest-priced devices from its competitors. Apple has been absent from the deals planned for the upcoming holiday shopping weekend, for example, while Roku and Amazon streaming sticks are available for as little as $20. 

Apple's commitment to the high end has crimped its market share of streaming players, preventing it from dominating an exploding market. The number of households with a streaming player has quadrupled in the last five years, according to Parks Associates, but Apple trails Roku and Amazon in market share and the company seldom discounts. That means its Apple TV costs at least $149, or as much as $200 for a 4K version with lots of space for downloads. 

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