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apple tvApple confirmed today that it has sold 1 million copies of its Apple TV media player.

The company predicted last Tuesday that it was going to hit the 1 million sales mark later that week. Maybe that’s why Apple didn’t actually announce the milestone via press release — instead, the news came out when AllThingsDigital’s John Paczkowski took the initiative to ask the company if it actually crossed the threshold it had predicted, and Apple said yes.

The new design, new features, and reduced $99 price were supposed to move the Apple TV out of the company’s “hobby” category and turn it into a serious moneymaker. With 1 million devices sold in three months, the plan seems to be working, though it remains to be seen whether Apple can really take the lead in the Internet-connected TV category the way it did with music players, smartphones, and most recently tablets — in fact, digital-video player maker Roku says it’s nearing the same sales milestone.

One big obstacle to Apple TV’s mass market appeal is the company’s limited success in convincing TV networks to price their new episode rentals at 99 cents. Chief executive Steve Jobs successfully forced music industry executives to accept his terms for selling music thanks to the dominance of Apple devices and the iTunes store. I suspect Apple TV will need a much larger audience before Jobs can do the same thing to uncooperative networks. (Not that movie and TV episodes sold through iTunes are limited to Apple TV owners.)

On the other hand, the new Apple TV is certainly off to a more auspicious start than Google TV.

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