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Apple's 'intense focus' is on TV to develop interface for products

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said that television is an area of "intense focus" as the company seeks to add products that can build on the success of Macs, iPhones and iPads.

"This is an area of intense focus for us," Cook said of TV in an on-stage interview Tuesday at the D10 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. "We're going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us."

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, before he died last year, told his biographer that he had "finally cracked" how to build a TV with a simple user interface that would wirelessly synchronize content with Apple's other devices. The company is working on a television that may be unveiled this year and released in 2013, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos.

Apple turned to Jeff Robin, the software engineer who built the iTunes media store and helped create the iPod, to lead its development of a TV set, people with knowledge of the product said last year.

The company sells a set-top box called Apple TV that lets customers stream video from Apple products or the Internet to their TVs. Still, that device has yet to gain wide acceptance, and Apple executives have called it a "hobby."

During the conference, put on by the AllThingsD technology blog, Cook said that Apple has "great appreciation" for Facebook Inc., the largest social-networking service.

"The relationship is very solid," he said. "We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them. Stay tuned on this one."

In the wide-ranging interview, Cook also said that Apple remains on the lookout for acquisitions, though it's not currently seeking a large-sized deal. More products, including the iPhone, Apple's best-selling device, may be made in the United States, he said.

Much manufacturing and assembly takes place in Asian factories, which have come under criticism for treatment of workers. Cook said Apple is moving toward greater transparency in areas such as supplier responsibility and environmental sustainability.

Even as the company discloses more in those areas, it will redouble efforts to keep products under wraps while they are still under development, Cook said.

Responding to criticism of Apple's Siri voice-recognition service, Cook said Apple is working to improve the technology.

"There's more that it can do, and we have a lot of people working on this, and I think you'll be really pleased with some of the things that you'll see over the coming months," Cook said.

Before becoming CEO last year, Cook was Apple's chief operating officer, leading the company's vast supply chain. He joined the company in 1998 from Compaq Computer Corp. and was instrumental in managing the operational side of Apple's business while longtime CEO Jobs concentrated on product development and marketing.

The company's gross margins of 47 percent last quarter are more than double those of rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc.