The Apple TV set is coming, Cook hints in US TV interview

6 Dec 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple is still focused on doing something about reinventing the TV, CEO Tim Cook indicated in an interview with a US TV network. He also revealed Apple is planning to invest US$100m to bring manufacturing back to the US with a line of Macs.

In an interview with Brian Williams of NBC’s Rock Center, Cook said: “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.

“It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Apple had been rumoured to be working on a TV display device for a number of years and in Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late former CEO Steve Jobs, Jobs said he’d “cracked it” when it comes to making TVs work better for people.

Apple already has a TV-based product called the Apple TV on the market, a set top box that interacts with other Apple devices and allows users to buy or rent TV and movie content, as well as access streaming services.

However, attempts by Apple to make its Apple TV set top box a greater force in the TV space have floundered, as broadcasters and rights holders are wary about the Californian tech giant’s intentions.

Apple is bringing manufacturing back to the good ‘ol USA

While the US may be home to many of the world’s biggest technology companies and Silicon Valley, in particular, a powerhouse of innovation, the US since the 1960s allowed its manufacturing industries to drift overseas.

A case in point would be the display industry – now at the heart of all technology innovation – that was prominent in the US but is now dominated by Asian manufacturers like Samsung, Sharp and Panasonic.

The heartlands of manufacturing in the US are known as the rustbelt, but there’s a concerted effort by entrepreneurs to revive industry in cities like Detroit, Michigan.

While this shift suited the US during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the cold winds of economic change since 2008 led to soul-searching amongst Americans as to why the high-quality manufacturing jobs within what seem to be great American companies are overseas.

In fact, this was something that US President Barack Obama had broached with Jobs and the answer was the American education system wasn’t producing students with the skills for advanced manufacturing technology jobs.

This sentiment was echoed by Cook in the Rock Center interview, where he said Apple will invest more than US$100m to start making Macs in the US from next year.

He said the US education system isn’t geared to give people the skills needed for modern manufacturing processes but the return of the Mac lines may help to change that.

In a separate Bloomberg Business Week interview, Cook said: “Next year we are going to bring some production to the US on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over US$100m. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years