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Friday, December 07, 2012, 08:37 am PT (11:37 am ET)

Full-fledged television considered 'more in tune' with Apple than simple set-top box

With Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook admitting that television is an area of "intense interest" for his company, pundits have debated whether Apple would build a full television set or simply enhance upon the existing Apple TV accessory.

Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities said on Friday in a research note provided to AppleInsider that he believes a full television set would be "more in tune with Apple's strategy" than an enhanced set-top box. He said he believes Apple would "relish" the opportunity to place the company's logo as "the centerpiece of the living room."

"While CEO Tim Cook did not outright state it would release a television set, his indication that it was 'an area of intense interest' suggests, to us, that Apple will eventually enter this market and round out the fourth and only missing screen in its ecosystem," Um wrote.

He believes that a key part of the Apple television will be Siri, the company's voice-driven personal assistant software currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. He believes that Apple's functionality will help to differentiate its product from other existing television sets on the market.

The main obstacle, in Um's view, is content. While Apple may be able to build a television set quickly, the company will need to secure deals for live television and more before it could launch a product. As a result, he doesn't see an Apple television launching until the second half of 2013, or perhaps even 2014.

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Rumors have an Apple television set have persisted for years, but the possibility of a greatly enhanced Apple TV set-top box as an accessory for third-party televisions was raised this August. A report from The Wall Street Journal revealed that Apple was considering building its own cable box that would include an iOS-like user interface and advanced cloud-based DVR functionality that would blur the line between live and on-demand content.

Whether Apple is working on a television, a cable box, or nothing at all, Cook has helped to fuel speculation with comments he made in an interview that aired this week on NBC's Rock Center.

"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 told journalist Brian Williams. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."

Of course, Cook said nothing that would confirm or deny any potential plans for an Apple television, instead opting to refer to his fondness for visions of the future from the animated show "The Jetsons." Williams himself admitted it was "frustrating" trying to pry answers from Apple's elusive CEO.