Tim Cook Once Again Hints at Apple TV

| Analysis

Apple CEO Tim Cook has once again hinted that his company is interested in disrupting the TV market. In a teaser for an interview with NBC's Brian Williams set to air Thursday evening, Mr. Cook said that the TV space was of "intense interest" to Apple.

“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 said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Tim Cook on NBC

Apple CEO Tim Cook on NBC

By every measure, that is Cook Code™ for "We're still working on a TV, and we are going to disrupt that market just like we did media players, smartphones, and that pitiful segment that used to be called tablets but is now known as the iPad market."

We say "still" because it was revealed in Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography that the late Apple cofounder was working on disrupting the TV market. In the final months of his life, he was quoted as saying that he had finally "cracked" the code to making an Internet-connected TV make sense.

Since then, Mr. Isaacson has said publicly that he withheld details of Apple's TV plans out of respect for the product not having been announced yet.

In May, Mr. Cook further telegraphed Apple's interest in TV, emphasizing the principle that the company wants to be able to control key technologies for any markets it enters. He repeated that theme in July.

It has long been thought that a subscription service to compete with cable and satellite services could be a part of Apple's TV plans. On Tuesday, Netflix announced that it had secured exclusive rights for first run movies and TV shows for Apple board member Bob Iger's company, Disney.

That move strongly suggests that Apple will not be launching its own subscription service—if Apple were going to do so, Disney could be counted on to be a part of it. In addition, other studio and network execs have frequently expressed opposition to Apple's overtures for such a service because they fear disruption of current advertising-based paradigms.

At the same time, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has insisted that Apple will introduce a TV in 2013, and Mr. Cook's comments back that up. Tim Cook is a careful, methodical, and precise speaker, and everything about the quote cited at the top of this article is intended to convey Apple's intent to disrupt the TV market.

It only remains to be seen how.

One more thing: NBC has been teasing and promoting the heck out of this interview. The network pre-announced the interview's December 6th broadcast date and released stills from the interview the day it took place. It has also produced a written summation and the teaser video you see below. It's almost as if the network expects people to be interested.

It doesn't include the TV comments, but does have other tidbits, including Mr. Cook's comments about building a Mac in the U.S. that TMO covered earlier on Thursday. Note, however, that it's a Flash embed.

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Really? Sounds more like he’s talking about TV the medium, not TV the piece of electronics. They’ve got the AppleTV, time to open it up to apps and own that market like they did when they opened up the iPhone to apps.


Maybe Disney sold streaming rights to Netflix because Apple’s going to buy Netflix just before they announce their TV disruptor ray cannon?


@palenoue ~ That’s an interesting, and not an off the wall notion.  I do wonder though, if there is some backroom deal ongoing between Apple and Disney, why are not using ABC (the network Disney owns and can control) instead of NBC?


“why are THEY not using ABC,” I meant.


“why are THEY not using ABC,”

Could it be to gain favour with NBC? If they “have” ABC already, why further alienate the others by favoring one further.


That’s kind of Machiavellian, but a reasonable possibility.


I own an Apple TV. It’s an iMac. Got rid of my TV. Got rid of my cable sub. Works great. Looks great.

Apple might make a TV but, in fact, it will be a computer in sheep’s clothing. Like the iMac. Apple makes computers and only computers because that’s what it loves. Computers. That’s Apple’s lust and heart’s blood and mission in life. It also knows people have learned rightfully to hate computers. So it disguises computers as phones and walkmans and maybe TVs.

Maybe. Apple’s learned it is not enough to disguise the computer or even to make it damn pretty: Apple knows it also needs a firehose of highly appealing content. Content that’s relatively cheap and relatively exclusive. No buck a tune, no iPod. No buck an app, no iPhone. And no buck a show, no iTube.

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