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Cook sizes up TV prospects for Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook says Apple TV set top box sales have been brisk, but that the medium leaves people wanting more.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook dodged a handful of questions about whether the company is at work on a TV set, while making the argument that it's still an activity Apple is trying to improve.

During a live interview at the D10 conference tonight in Palos Verdes, Calif., Cook was asked how the company was looking to "change television," a question he dodged.

"Very uncharacteristically of us, we're staying in the Apple TV business," Cook said, adding that Apple was "not a hobby kind of company."

Cook added, however, that Apple has already sold 2.7 million Apple TV set-top boxes this year, up from the 2.8 million the company sold last year. "I think many people would say that this is an area of their life that they aren't pleased with," he said, noting that the company would keep at it.

Of course the real interest is about Apple's much-rumored TV set, which interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg pressed Cook on. Mossberg in particular asked Cook to consider the question of making a TV set hypothetically. Cook countered by saying that Apple would need to control key technology, make a "significant contribution," and if the end result would be the product the company wanted.

The discussion then turned to content, which Cook argued the company didn't have a problem getting. Cook also noted that he did not believe Apple needed to own a content business, and worked better by partnering.

Apple, of course has long been rumored to be working on a TV set, a rumor that's rooted in some fact. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted "to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," and that he "finally cracked it." Since then there has been no shortage of rumors that suggest Apple is still at work on such a product.

CNET's Rafe Needleman contributed to this report.

Update at 10:45 p.m. PT with relevant clip from that section of the talk.