I'm not convinced that the masses buy into Apple TV. It's a true quality product. Here in the UK, the masses tend to be conservative with crappy Sky TV boxes OR Amazon stick or simply their TV smart apps. They want everything hardware wise for free or cheap - many are truly ignorant and know nothing about their data security - pretty clear when so many use Windows computers or Android phones. I'm convinced that these people - and there's many of them are simply not Apple TV customers nd will never be Apple TV + customers.We need to put our business hats on. Apple will need to offer a function or feature they can market. Without that its dead in the water. The marketing has to apply to the average user (not just us geeks) that effectively separates the device from what's currently available (or owned).
HDMI 2.1 is awesome however with no content or limited functionality its unlikely they will be able to recoup from the development cost associated with manufacturing vs just continuing to manufacturer the current AppleTV 4k. If they can't convey to the masses why they NEED HDMI 2.1 it would be just like them selling a new AppleTV 4K only difference being a new case color. Some people would buy it but not many because people won't see the value in that.
Time really isn't that relevant with Apple. We've seen Apple update product lines in under 6 months for very valid technical reasons and we've seen them not update products for 4+ years due to technical limitations. Overall the longer they can sell the AppleTV 4k the better it is for them.
Don't worry there will ALWAYS be the Apple TV. It's the highest quality window for iTunes/Apple TV+/AirPlay/Photos/iCloud/HomeSharing etc etc. It compliments EVERYTHING in the Apple portfolio!I agree with previous posters - I'm not sure how they would market a spec bump on a set-top box unless it served a purpose that the existing unit can not. Their next hardware "revision" may have actually been the smart TV integration.
I do want that spec bump though so I can play higher quality x265 videos w/plex!