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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Does Apple\'s Tim Cook Want an Apple Television?

Apple customers have been yearning for it for years. And now, it seems, the chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, wants one too: an Apple-made television.

In an interview to be broadcast Thursday on “Rock Center With Brian Williams” on NBC, Mr. Cook slid a tiny hint across the table that such a product could exist someday.

“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Mr. Cook told Mr. Williams. “It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that.”

Apple has been trying to make its way into the living room since 2006, when the company announced the Apple TV, a small box that that can stream iTunes content to a television set. At first, when Steven P. Jobs, Apple's chief execut ive, announced the new product, he had high hopes for it as a part of Apple's core business.

Describing the products Apple sold at the time as legs on a chair, Mr. Jobs said,”We hope the iPhone is the third leg on our chair, and maybe one day Apple TV will be the fourth leg.” In early 2007, Mr. Jobs reiterated these comments in an interview with USA Today.

But it wasn't long before Apple downgraded its hopes and started referring to Apple TV as a “hobby.”

In an interview last year, Walter Isaacson, Mr. Jobs's biographer, said the former chief executive had discussed his goals to reinvent television. “He did talk about the te levision. He told me he'd ‘licked it' and once said, ‘There's no reason you should have all these complicated remote controls,'” Mr. Isaacson said. “He had three things that he wanted to reinvent: the television, textbooks and photography.”

As I noted last year, Siri, Apple's voice service, could play an important role in a television. Rather than fumble with peculiar remotes, you could simply talk to your television. Saying “Put on the latest episode of ‘Gossip Girl'” will leave the rest up to Siri.

The brief comment by Mr. Cook could be perceived by close Apple-watchers as a Steve Jobs Jedi mind trick. Mr. Jobs would often make small, innocuous statements about an unannounced product that would leave the Apple faithful arguing for weeks about what he meant.

Now, it seems, the specula tion around “if” Apple will release a more elaborate video-focused product will now move to “when” the company will announce one.