Cook on Apple TV: The 'hobby' is selling well

With people itching to see an actual TV set from Apple, the company's CEO today took an opportunity to point out that sales are strong for its set-top box for TVs.

While dodging a question about Apple's plans to get into the TV business, the company's chief executive pointed out that its more than year-old set-top box is doing just fine.

Answering a question about Apple's strategy for the living room from Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, Apple CEO Tim Cook replied by pointing to the fact that in this past quarter, the company sold half as many Apple TV set-top boxes as it did during all of last year.

"The Apple TV product is doing actually very well," Cook argued. "In last fiscal year that ended in September, we sold a bit above 2.8 million units. And just in the past quarter--the December quarter--we set a new quarterly record for Apple TV with over 1.4 million (units)."

Cook added that the product is still considered a "hobby" by the company when compared to big sellers like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod--the first two of which sold in record numbers in the company's first fiscal quarter results this afternoon.

Interest in Apple getting into the TV set business bloomed late last year with the release of Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Isaacson noted Jobs' work on making an easy-to-use TV set that is integrated with the company's various products and services.

"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," Jobs was quoted as saying in Isaacson's book. "It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

As it stands, the company's current set-top box offering is looking a bit long in the tooth. It shares the same processing chip found in the iPad 1, iPhone 4, and latest generation iPod Touch, but short of a few code snippets , there have been few recent signs of it getting updated to Apple's faster A5 model--a move that could portend an official TV-related announcement.

Here's the full transcript from that section of the call:

Gene Munster: We just got back from CES, and everyone has a connected TV trying to solve problems that only Apple can solve, and yet when we look at your Apple TV offering it seems a little dated compared to what's on the market. Just at a high level, how should we be thinking about your strategy in the living room?


Tim Cook: The Apple TV product is doing actually very well. In last fiscal year that ended in September, we sold a bit above 2.8 million units. And just in the past quarter--the December quarter--we set a new quarterly record for Apple TV with over 1.4 million (units).


But in the scheme of things if you dollarize this in revenues, we still classify this as a hobby. However we continue to add things to it. And if you're using the latest one--I don't know about you--but, I couldn't live without it.


It's a fantastic product and we continue to pull the string to see where it takes us, but other than that I don't have any comment.

 

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