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Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Total shipments of new Apple TV top 2 million, 820K sold last quarter - report

Shipments of the second-generation Apple TV continue to be strong, reaching more than 2 million estimated units since the device launched late last year, according to a new report.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities revealed the results of his survey of Apple suppliers on Tuesday. The numbers show that sales of the Apple TV have held relatively steady since the device first went on sale last October.

Sales of the streaming-centric iOS-powered Apple TV topped 1 million just before Christmas of last year, and within three months of its launch. That pace showed strong sales had continued after a breakout start of 250,000 units in its first six weeks.

Apple has famously referred to its set top box product as a "hobby," but with AirPlay instant wireless streaming of audio and video from iOS devices now available for third-party applications, the Apple TV could become a more integral part of the Apple ecosystem. And while the Apple TV remains a "hobby," steady shipments of the $99 device have bolstered its status.

Kuo estimates that Apple sold 820,000 units of the Apple TV in its second quarter of fiscal 2011, which ran from January through March. Apple will announce its quarterly earnings after the market closes on Wednesday, though the company frequently does not mention the Apple TV, focusing instead on more popular products like the iPhone and iPad.

As the new second-generation Apple TV gains a foothold in the market, Apple is rumored to be exploring other options to bring AirPlay to the masses. In March, Bloomberg reported that Apple is considering a plan to license AirPlay to third-party HDTV makers, allowing users to stream video directly from an iPhone or iPad to their TV set without the need for an Apple TV set top box.

There are also persistent rumors that Apple is developing its own full-fledged television set. One analyst said earlier this month that there are signs that Apple could release an Internet-connected television by the end of this year.