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Thursday, December 06, 2012, 04:49 am PT (07:49 am ET)

Tim Cook hints that Apple plans to redefine the television set

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has poured gasoline on the growing fire of speculation that his company plans to build a full-fledged television set in the near future, with comments disparaging current television sets as outdated pieces of technology.

Cook's strongest hints to date on the prospect of an Apple television came from an interview with Brian Williams of NBC's Rock Center, set to air tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern. In that interview, the CEO was asked what's next for Apple, and he hinted that the company has big plans for the living room.

"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," Cook said. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."

Cook's comments are the most aggressive yet in hinting that Apple could be working on a television set — a product that has been rumored to be in the works for years. Previously, the CEO has also used the words "intense interest" to refer to its Apple TV set-top box, an existing television accessory that streams movies, TV shows and other content.

Apple television


Rumors of an Apple television have persisted for years, but they picked up considerable steam late last year when the authorized biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was published. In that book, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had "finally cracked" the secret to building a television.

"It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine," Jobs said.

Then in January, a report from USA Today claimed that Apple's lead designer, Jony Ive, had a "slick" 50-inch prototype television set housed inside his secure California design studio. It claimed that Apple is looking to build televisions sized 42 inches and larger with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has long been a proponent for an Apple television. In November, he predicted that such a product would be one of three core launches for the company in 2013, joined by a refreshed iPhone and updated iPad lineup.

Munster believes Apple's television will be priced between $1,500 and $2,000, with screen sizes between 42 and 55 inches, and would go on sale in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season.