Tim Cook on Tuesday sat down for an in-depth and far-ranging interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. Early on, the topic of conversation turned to Apple's role as an innovator. Specifically, Mossberg wanted to know if Apple still has what it takes to change the game.
Cook, naturally, responded that Apple is still the same incredible company it's always been and that it has some incredible plans they've been working on for a while. Following up, Swisher asked Cook whatever happened to Apple's television plans - though to be fair, Cook has never really said anything substantive in that regard.
In any event, Cook responded, as he's prone to do, by trotting out a statistic, namely that Apple thus far has sold over 13 million Apple TVs. Cook then proceeded to say that Apple believes the TV viewing experience can be improved upon, and that Apple is still working to fix things even more.
Not to be denied, Swisher pressed on:
But Steve Jobs talked about dramatic change. So did you. But Apple TV is the same product that other people do. And part of that is Hollywood — they feel more confident in dealing with you.
Cook, as one would expect, didn't want to say that securing deals with Hollywood is holding up Apple's ultimate plan for the TV space.
I don't want to go into detail, as you might have guessed. But it continues to be an area of great interest for us. But I do think the product and the relationships we've built provide a lot more knowledge that we would have. And the popularity has been larger than we thought — we're not marketing it like we do our other products. So it's encouraging. It's still an experience that is too much like 10 or 20 years ago."
When you look at the TV experience, it's not an experience that I think many people love. It's not an experience that's been brought up to this decade.
So, point blank, Swisher asked if Apple had a grand vision with respect to television and improving the viewing experience. Just as bluntly, Cook responded, "There is a grand vision."
How tantalizingly vague, but when it comes to the notoriously secretive Apple, this is about as revealing as you'll hear an executive be.
Historically, Apple has always said that the Apple TV is nothing but a hobby, but that it will continue to pull the strings and see where things head. Of course, there has long been speculation that Apple would release its own branded HDTV. While the idea is of course compelling, the TV industry is typically very low-margin, and we all know how much Apple loves its healthy margins.