Apple TV emerges from the shadows

Apple TV set-top box sales hit 2 million, but CEO Tim Cook dodged questions about whether a TV set was being developed

Apple TV was until now considered a "hobby," by Apple's own admission, but the product has taken on more importance for CEO Tim Cook.

Shipments for the Apple TV video-streaming box totaled 2 million units during the first quarter of 2013, growing by more than 60 percent year over year.

"We sold more last quarter than we did ever before," Cook said during a conference call on Wednesday to discuss quarterly earnings.

The Apple TV set-top box streams movies and music from the cloud and from other devices such as the iPhone and iPad. There have been rumors surrounding Apple's development of a TV set. The speculation gained steam after a mention in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs that Jobs had discussed making an easy-to-use TV set that could sync with other devices and Apple's iCloud service.

During the earnings call, a financial analyst asked Cook about the importance of Apple TV to the company, and whether a TV set was under development.

Cook did not say whether a TV set or an update to the set-top box was under development. But he said what was once a product for a niche audience now has a "much larger number that love it."

The TV area is of a lot of interest to Apple, Cook said.

"I tend to believe that there is a lot we can contribute to this space," Cook said. "I don't want to be more specific."

Cook has expressed dismay with the current TV watching experience. In an interview with NBC News last year, he said that when he turns on the TV, he feels like he has "gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years."

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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