Did you know Apple TV has 32% market share?

Although you’ll hardly ever hear anyone talk about it, Apple’s only product designed to connect directly to your TV is the leader in that niche market.

According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, the Apple TV commanded a 32% share of the external “connected TV” device market. The set-top box allows users to stream videos and music from iTunes to their TV, along with other Internet content from sources like Netflix.

This of course all comes after there has been growing speculation about Apple’s planned launch of its own television set next year.

Rumors have surfaced that the TV could be powered by Siri, giving users a fun and seamless way to control what they watch.

“As Apple prepares for its expected launch of smart TVs in 2012, rival platforms must accelerate their development plans to keep Apple from running away with the connected TV business, as it has done in smartphones and digital music,” noted Strategy Analytics analyst Jia Wu.

Other players in the set-top box market include Roku and Boxee, along with the now-discontinued Logitech Revue. If you’re unfamiliar with some of these names, that may go a long way to explaining why Apple has grabbed such a large presence.

The market of external set-top boxes is becoming less relevant as TV manufacturers build Internet connectivity directly into the TVs themselves.

Apple’s product is the only viable one that offers more than just Internet apps but also the ability to beam Mac computer and iPad/iPhone content to the TV. That functionality would also likely be a part of an Apple-branded TV set, effectively making the Apple TV set-top less relevant.

So the Internet-connected set-top box industry is and will continue to be very niche, unless someone else can create something that adds a distinguishing factor. So far that hasn’t happened.