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Apple TV hinted at by CEO Tim Cook

Cook has some harsh words for the television industry, suggesting that the maker of iPads, iPhones, and iMacs may have something up its sleeve.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.
James Martin/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook isn't a fan of the current state of television.

"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 in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, part of an interview that will air tonight on "Rock Center." "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."

That little hint is more than enough to get the rumor mill churning again on a possible Apple-built television. Many have long believed that the television would mark the next business that Apple could enter and revolutionize, just as it has done in the smartphone and tablet arenas.

With the smartphone business hitting maturity and tablet competition heating up, Apple could certainly use another new business to fuel its still high expectations for continued growth.

Apple already plays a small role in the living room with its Apple TV box, which connects Web videos and other media to the traditional television. But it has yet to talk about an actual television set of its own, and analysts have gone back and forth on when one might actually show up.

Cook's comments suggest that the technology is certainly on Apple's radar. But there remain questions over how much Apple can actually change in the television industry. The key is access to entertainment content, which is locked up in complicated deals between the traditional pay-TV providers and the networks and studios -- deals that are deemed too profitable to give up.

At the same time, the other television manufacturers have already starting building their own "smart televisions," which include motion control, apps, and even application processors.