Tim Cook on TVs: 'The interface is terrible. I mean, it’s awful!'

Apple CEO Tim Cook says that the TV interface is "terrible," but is there enough consumer interest in revolutionizing TV to make it worth Apple's time entering into the market?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

It's long been rumored that Apple was working on its own version of the smartwatch, and now that's been unveiled, what about that other mythical Apple device – the TV?

Rumors that Apple is secretly working on a TV have been circulating for years, with analysts going as far as to say that its launch was "imminent" back on 2012. But now it's 2014 and there's still no TV out there emblazoned with the Apple logo. 

But that doesn't mean that Apple isn't interested in TV.

"TV is one that we continue to have great interest in. I choose my words carefully there. TV is one of those things that, if we’re really honest, it’s stuck back in the seventies," said Apple CEO Tim Cook during an appearance on the Charlie Rose show.

"Think about how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that has changed. And yet TV, when you go in your living room to watch the TV, or wherever it might be, it almost feels like you’re rewinding the clock and you’ve entered a time capsule and you’re going backwards. The interface is terrible. I mean, it's awful!"

Apple is, in essence, already in the TV business with its Apple TV set-top-box, which has more than 20 million users now.

"I don't want to get into what we're doing in the future. We’ve taken stabs with Apple TV, and Apple TV now has over 20 million users, so it has far exceeded the hobby label that we placed on it," said Cook.

"We’ve added more and more content to it this year, so there’s increasingly more things that you can do on there. But this is an area that we continue to look at."

Some points worth throwing into the equation:

  • Just how stuck in the past is TV, what with DVRs, on-screen listings, downloads and so on? Is he watching the same TV as I am?
  • What more could an integrated Apple TV do compared to Apple TV set-top-box? What's wrong with the BYOS (Bring Your Own Screen) model? The current model means that Apple is letting other companies take the fall when it comes to making and selling the screen part – which isn't all that lucrative a business model any more.
  • 20 million Apple TV users, in the grand scheme of things, is a drop in the ocean. Apple can sell some 20 million Macs in a year, and 20 million iOS devices in a few weeks. Is there really that much consumer interest in revolutionizing TV?
  • An Apple TV set would still not be standalone and would likely be connected to other devices – DVD/Blu-ray players, DVRs, games consoles and such.
  • The market is crowded, not just with DVRs and set-top-boxes, but games consoles, and devices such as Chromecast and Fire TV.
  • And speaking on games console, what about an Apple games console? 

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