Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn’t interested this week in rattling off specifics about a new, revolutionary Apple TV, but he did say there is a “very grand vision” in place.
Cook kicked off what some would call his summer tour at the All Things Digital D11 Conference this week, giving an exclusive interview to Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher about what the computer giant has on the horizon. The on-stage interview has become a tradition for Apple for the past several years, that have included several interviews with late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs.
Last year at the D10 conference, Cook spoke briefly on Apple TV and said Apple has an interest in that market. This year, Mossberg grilled him for specifics. Speaking about clearing content rights, he asked, “Are they holding up your project? Is it something technical?”
No surprise here. Cook replied, “I don’t want to go into detail, but it continues to be an area of great interest to us.”
Apple currently sells an over-the-top device called Apple TV ($99) that allows users to rent and stream movies from the iTunes store, as well as watch content from other over-the-top services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. (It’s what I use, and have written about in my blog posts about cutting the cord.)
Cook said Apple sold more than 7 million Apple TV units last year. He said it’s been a great experience for customers, “but also a very good learning experience from the point-of-view of Apple.
“I do think that the Apple TV product, and the relationships that we’ve worked down technically around it, provides a lot more knowledge that what we would have had without the product.”
There have been plenty of rumors about a dedicated Apple television set hitting the market sometime this year. One rumor, citing industry sources, said Apple is, in fact, working on a 4K “Ultra HD” television set.
Of course, it’s unclear what Apple has up its sleeve. At last year’s D10 conference, Cook said he felt like he went 30 years back in time whenever he sat down to watch TV. He reiterated those thoughts at this year’s conference.
“Look at the TV experience,” he said. “It’s not an experience that very many people love. It’s not an experience you would say has been brought up-to-date for this decade. It’s still too much of an experience of 10 years ago, 20 years ago, even 30 years ago.”
But Apple must remember that it doesn’t have that one main thing that broadcasters have: A one-to-many technology. As great as video-on-demand is, as great as social media integration is and as great as the current Apple TV is — it still can’t give its viewers that live viewing experience.
Maybe Apple will prove us wrong. The company’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference is June 10-14. Apple isn’t expected to make any hardware announcements and instead focus on software, like iOS.
But you never know. Maybe they’ll surprise us. Below is the full, 80-minute video of Cook. He talks about Apple TV near the beginning of the video.