Apple sees TV “as a market that’s been left behind”

In his first television interview since becoming CEO of Apple,(s AAPL) Tim Cook avoided answering any of the more probing questions of NBC’s Brian Williams. Cook did manage to be his usual cryptic self when it comes to public comments on Apple and the television business. Cook told Williams that Apple sees it as “a market that’s been left behind.” When pressed for more, Cook said with a smile: “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say any more than that.”

Since he took over as Apple CEO in the late summer of 2011, Cook has said that Apple TV is a hobby, but that Apple would continue to “pull on the thread” and see where its set-top Apple TV box would lead it. “Intense interest” makes Apple’s commitment to figuring out its place in the living room sound much more of a priority than has been conveyed publicly before.

The half-hour segment, aired Thursday evening, was otherwise devoid of any real news. That Apple would be moving one Mac product line assembly to the U.S. was revealed earlier Thursday in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview.

For the segment, Williams followed Cook around two different Apple Stores in Manhattan, including the Grand Central Terminal store, where customers and employees greeted the chief executive. During their talk, Cook covered the basics of what he’s trying to do at Apple, what he thinks makes the company special, and more — all stuff that anyone who’s had a passing interest in Apple or tech news would already know.

But the interview served  as a decent coming out party for Cook, who was essentially introducing himself to mainstream America — the people who buy his iPhones, iPads and laptops.