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Everything dies eventually — even your favorite tech

Apple TV 4K.
If your Apple TV doesn’t look like this, it’s probably time for a new one. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Anyone who’s been around tech in a corporate setting has a story of some ancient piece of hardware. Origin unknown. Functionality possibly dubious. But don’t you dare ever unplug it.

That’s a stark contrast from consumer-grade equipment. The things we buy for our home won’t last forever. Nor should they be expected to. As for how far in the future that unknown expiration date should be? I’d suggest it should be proportional to price. The more you pay, the longer it should last.

But that’s also why when news dropped that Netflix would no longer work on the second- and third-generation Apple TV hardware, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Actually, that’s not quite true. I was a little surprised that Netflix still worked on those devices at all.

And if your Apple TV looks like this 2012 model, it’s definitely time to upgrade. .

We’re now three generations into the Apple TV 4K era, which started in 2017. The original first-generation Apple TV (which actually was announced as “iTV”) appeared a decade before that. The second- and third-gen hardware launched in 2010 and 2012, respectively, and Apple itself hasn’t supported the second-gen box since September 2014.

In other words, Netflix is no longer supporting hardware that it should be under no obligation to support, even if it still fits your needs at home.

Yes, that’s a shame. It’s annoying, frustrating, and likely will cost you some money. But there’s nothing in your home that will last forever. Roofs need to be replaced every 20 years or so. Dishwashers eventually will break down. Air conditioners are among the least sexy things you can spend money on. (If you’ve ever had to replace one, you know what that sinking feeling is like. And don’t get me started on pool pumps.)

I have only so much sympathy for an Apple TV box, even one that still works. But especially one that retailed for just $99 in the previous decade. Those are devices that at this point can be amortized out to less than a$10 a year for the hardware.

And all of those points come before you get anywhere close to talking about the new tech inside a current Apple TV box. (Or any other streaming device of the same ilk.) Many times more onboard storage. Far more powerful processors. HDR and 4K resolution. A better remote control.

I don’t believe it’s necessary to update your hardware with every new generation. If you have the money and that’s your thing, great. If there’s some new feature you just have to have, awesome. Go for it. But just as you’re not obligated to buy every new thing, neither should the manufacturers and software developers be required to support every legacy device. Yes, there needs to be some sort of realistic support window. And that window may well shift a little — or features may have to be left out — as hardware requirements change. That’s just the way it is with tech.

At some point my 2019 MacBook Pro will need to be replaced. It might well not do whatever newfangled AI Apple puts in the next version of MacOS. I finally replaced my iPhone 11 Pro with an iPhone 15 Pro last year, and I expect this one to last me three or more years, too. But I don’t expect Apple to support them forever. Nor do I expect app developers to do so.

So if you’re still using a more-than-decade-old Apple TV box and rely on it for Netflix, it’s time to grit your teeth and upgrade. Yes, you’ll have to spend a tad more than you did back when Barack Obama was president. And no, I have no idea if the current-model Apple TV will last as long. But I do know that it’s a better product. By the way, we also have no idea when the next Apple TV will come out. (Though we do have some thoughts about what we’d like to see in it.)

But one thing I do know? Netflix will work on it.

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Phil Nickinson
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