Apple chief hints at innovation in TV

Apple chief Tim Cook on Tuesday vowed that creativity would remain in the company's "DNA" and hinted that products on the horizon could come in the area of television.

Cook was the star opening guest at a prestigious All Things Digital conference hosted by the Rupert Murdoch-owned technology news website at a resort in the Southern California town of Palos Verdes.

"We're going to introduce some great stuff," Cook said. "I think you are going to love it."

Cook declined to reveal details of products set for release by the Cupertino, California-based maker of iPads, iPhones, iPods, Macintosh computers, and Apple TV devices.

The first unveiling could take place as soon as June 11, when Apple kicks off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

"Juices are flowing and we have some incredible things coming out," Cook said. "For years Apple's been focused on innovation, and this will not change."

While avoiding specifics, Cook said that the Apple TV business is "an area of intense interest for us."

Apple has long referred to Apple TV -- boxes that route content from the Internet to television screens -- as a hobby.

"We're not a hobby kind of company, as you know," Cook said. "The company tends to put a lot of wood behind a few arrows. We've stuck to this."

Apple sold 2.8 million Apple TV devices last year and nearly that many in the first few months of this year, according to Cook.

Apple's nascent iCloud online data storage service and close relationships with film and television studios that sell digital content for viewing on its gadgets could support a new Apple TV offering.

Last month, Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek noted that the improved outlook of display-related companies might be due in part to early "iTV" production.

Cook spoke of lessons learned from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who turned the helm over to Cook in August of last year after becoming too ill to continue, and of finding his own stride out of his predecessor's shadow.

"I learned a lot from Steve," 51-year-old Cook said during an interview with All Things Digital writers Kara Swisher and Walter Mossberg.

"It was the saddest day of my life when he passed away," he said. "But at some point last year somebody kind of shook me and said it's time to get on. The sadness was replaced by this determination to continue the journey."

Lessons learned from Jobs included focusing on doing a few things exceptionally well, shunning mediocrity, and casting the rest aside, according to Cook.

"He also taught me that the joy is in the journey," Cook said.

Cook recalled going to Jobs's home to discuss taking over as Apple chief, saying Jobs talked about how Disney had floundered after its legendary founder died and decisions were made based on what Walt Disney would have done.

"So he looked at me with these intense eyes and he asked me to never do that, just do what is right," Cook said.

Under Cook's watch, Apple has implemented a philanthropic program matching donations made my employees and embarked on a campaign to improve working conditions at plants in China where its gadgets are made.

When asked who he looked up to, Cook said that the list included Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King along with Disney chief executive Robert Iger, who is on the Apple board of directors.

In an indirect swipe at Microsoft's touting of its next generation Windows operating system as being designed to work on all kinds of devices, Cook said software can't power tablets and personal computers without sacrifices.

"You're not building the best products when you try to converge," Cook said. "If you force them together I think the PC is not as good as it could be and the tablet is not as good as it could be."

Cook said Apple is "micromanaging" its contractors in China to improve working conditions and curb excessive overtime, which has been "tricky" since there are employees who want to rack up lots of hours to make extra money.

He referred to patent wars being waged by Apple and other technology firms as a "pain in the ass" but maintained that Apple was rightfully defending its creations.

"Apple can't take all of our energy and all of our care and finish a painting and have someone else put their name on it," Cook said.

He added that the notoriously tight-lipped company was going to "double-down" on product secrecy.

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