Is Tim Cook Dropping Hints?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has a huge reputation of never letting out any product secrets prior to one of their famous launches, but chief executive Tim Cook broke the trend by hinting in an interview that a full-fledged television set was a definite area of interest for the company.

What Did Cook Say to Fuel the Speculation?

“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.”

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Speculation that Apple was planning to enter the television market existed ever since late company co-founder Steve Jobs mentioned to his biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “cracked” the sector. However, despite the growing fire of rumors from analysts and supply sources since then, Apple never publicly mentioned the product again. Cook’s admission — during an interview with NBC Rock Center’s Brian Williams — that it was something the company was actually interested in is a first and will only fuel the talk. The full interview is set to air on Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern.

What Does the Buzz Predict?

Jobs had told Isaacson that his television would have “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Apple storePiper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, one of the biggest believers in the Apple television theory, has based his predictions on that comment from Jobs. According to Munster, such a product from Apple would feature a simplified interface that fixes remote control issues, include unified control of TV-connected devices, voice control, an app store, and FaceTime. The analyst has predicted a launch next year, in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

How Could This News Affect Apple?

Apple, of course, already has a foot in the television market with its Apple TV set-top box, but this talk centers on a full-fledged, high-definition television set and has the potential of offering the company a brand new growth area. A lot of the recent worries about Apple’s long-term potential have been regarding the company’s narrow product range and the possibility that it may not be able to keep growing at its massive rate of the last few years. A high-margin, pathbreaking product could be an answer that will satisfy a lot of investors and watchers.

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