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Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Sales of new Apple TV to exceed 1 million this week

Apple on Tuesday announced it expects sales of its new streaming-centric Apple TV to top one million units later this week, before Christmas and within three months of the device's launch.

The news shows that sales of the Apple TV, famously referred to as Apple's "hobby," have not slowed since the device was released in late September. Apple revealed in October that the set top box had sold more than 250,000 in its first six weeks of availability.

Strong demand for the Apple TV at launch led some to predict that the device would sell 1 million per quarter, thanks in part to its aggressive $99 price.

Apple also offered tighter integration with the iOS ecosystem when it updated the Apple TV in November, adding support for AirPlay. With AirPlay, users can instantly stream some videos from their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to their TV set.

The new Apple TV also represented a shift for the company, as it pushed studios to allow 99 cent rentals of TV shows, rather than costlier permanent purchases. But some studios have been reluctant to participate, calling Apple's 99-cent model too inexpensive.

The newly updated Apple TV also managed to make Time magazine's list of the top 10 gadgets of 2010, coming in at No. 7. The iPad was the top gadget, while the new MacBook Air took fourth, and the iPhone 4 was sixth.