As rumors continue to percolate about a new and exciting upgrade to Apple TV, the humble $99 device got a major bump this week in the publicity department.
After the online Apple Store was taken down temporarily Monday evening, the site returned with a brand new, and much more prominent, spot for the small box that enables users to buy and stream movies and other content over their television sets.
The revamped home page not only featured some lovely Valentine's Day offerings, but also offered a spanking new stage for the TV, which previously had been relegated to a sort of also-ran status.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. But with speculation growing that Apple might be close to upgrading its TV, analysts and bloggers saw the website renovation as a sign that the new product might be just around the corner.
"TV is the next obvious area for a product upgrade and Apple has long been clear about its high level of interest in the category," said analyst John Jackson with IDC. "They've never really said anything about an iWatch or a gaming console, but they have been clear that while TV has been an experiment for them so far, they're keenly interested in it.
"This store remodel doesn't look like a coincidence to me," he said. "I think it's a nontrivial development."
The new section includes ways to connect with "knowledgeable specialists" who "are available to answer all your questions about Apple TV even before you're ready to buy." It has a phone number to call, a link to an online chat feature, and another link to Apple's brick-and-mortar stores. It also features an Apple TV Q&A with Apple's online community, where you can get all your questions about the product answered.
There's also information about how to set the device up, a breakdown of its specs, and even information on how to obtain an extended warranty.
As bloggers pointed out, Apple TV has traditionally been relegated to the shadows of the company's other flashier and sexier products, like the iPhone and iPad. Until this week's tweak, the TV inhabited a subcategory spot under the iPod, which according to CEO Tim Cook during this week's quarterly earnings conference call, is quickly becoming a vanishing act in the cavalcade of Apple products.
During the call, when an analyst tried to press Cook about a coming iteration of the Apple TV, he demurred, saying only that "we believe in innovation."
Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689; follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc.