Tim Cook Explains Why The Apple TV Is A Hobby (And Why The Rumored iTV Might Not Be One)

Tim Cook Explains Why The Apple TV Is A Hobby (And Why The Rumored iTV Might Not Be One)

At the Goldman Sachs keynote today, Tim Cook was asked a question about the Apple TV that was extremely revealing in regards to why Apple keeps calling it a “hobby device”… and why it might soon lead to the so-called Apple iTV.

Asked “What’s holding you back from entering traditional television market, and what keeps the Apple TV in the hobby stage?”, Cook was cagy about speculating about Apple’s “future plans for this market.”

He did however explain why Apple called it a hobby, though.

“The reason we call it a hobby is because we don’t want to send a message to shareholders that we think the market for it is the same as the iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc. We don’t want people to think the leg of that stool is the same as others,” explained Cook.

So if there’s not the market of the iPhone or iPad, why is Apple bothering with TV? Because Apple has a gut instinct that there’s something there.

“Apple doesn’t do hobbies as a general rule. We believe in focus, only working on a few things. With Apple TV, however, despite the barriers in that market, for those of us who use it, we’ve always thought there was something there and that if we kept following our intuition and pulling the string, we might find something that is larger.”

Cook finished his comments by making a possible reference to Apple’s rumored entry into the HDTV market with the so-called iTV.

“We need something special to make this a main market, to make TV a serious category for Apple,” he said.

With Steve Jobs saying he’d cracked the television problem just last year, could Apple already have an iTV in their labs that they think finally makes TV a serious pursuit for Cupertino?

  • Aj Tk427

    Same old stuff we already know John, doesn’t tell us squat.
    For Apple to do to the TV market what they did to the mobile market (iPod,iPhone,iPad) they need something really special, price, quality, size, usability.

    That’s a hard bunch of nuts to crack to get into the market.

  • John Neumann

    I can imagine Steve, surrounded by elegant iPads, iPhones, MacBook Airs, etc, and then being forced to grab the DVR remote and scroll endlessly through crap menus and useless options and knowing there was a better way. 

    Even the current Apple TV requires several buttons on more than one remote to get started. Hardly intuitive and certainly inelegant. 

  • spice__weasel

    i think the real question is: do they have the relevant deals inked? great looking hardware or an easy and stylish interface shouldn’t be an issue for the fruit company. getting existing online streaming providers on board should be possible. the hard shell to crack would be the actual “stations” to provide their content via web (instead of sat, cable, and the international plethora of tv signal standards). make HBO an app. blur the line between web video (which is non-linear, awaiting user interaction) and “classic”, linear tv. make stations available internationally. that would be some market. i bet the barriers cook talks about are really international licensing issues.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    There’s plainly a huge market for someone that can come in and do for TV what Apple did for the cellphone. Even if you took Siri out of it and just used a touch device to manage content and processes of watching and recording video, it would be a huge step forward from everything that’s out there now. With Siri, it’s the Jetson’s in your living room and I don’t trust any other company to come close to getting it right. 
    Content providers will probably be reluctant to sign deals until they have to because that’s just the way they are. They don’t want to sign away licensing without having a better idea of what they can get out of it and they’re not going to have an idea until Apple drops a product announcement and they can gauge customer response. 
    From Apple’s perspective, if they build it, consumers will come and content will follow. That might be a better tactic for them than to try to work out advance deals with providers who are scared to death of letting Apple enter the market and will likely band together. 

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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