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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 01/18/2011

Analysts: Even without Jobs, Apple is in good hands

By Hayley Tsukayama

There is perhaps no company that the world identifies as closely with its chief executive as Apple. As countless analysts and commentators have said since Monday's announcement that the company's CEO and co-founder is taking medical leave, Steve Jobs is Apple.

Jobs is undeniably an irreplaceable figure, but industry analysts say he's not the only one who can run the company. As Jobs takes time off to tend to his health, he's again left Apple's chief operating officer, Timothy Cook, in charge. Cook, who has been with the company since 1998 is well-respected at Apple.

The COO is known for his meticulous approach to business operations, without the flash and ego that have typified Jobs. Cook has a reputation for being low-key and even-keeled -- two adjectives few would use to describe his boss. In fact, he's seen as the ideal foil for Jobs, who is notorious for his short temper.

Cook came to the company from Compaq and IBM, and assumed his current position in 2005. He has successfully seen the company through two of Jobs' previous medical leaves, including between January and June of 2009, when the company's stock price rose 67 percent, (albeit after an initial stumble in reaction to Jobs' announcement.) With Cook at the helm, Apple stayed on schedule with its development of the iPhone 4 and the iPad and improved sales -- even in an economic downturn.

Still, while there are few worries about Cook's business chops, analysts have said he lacks Jobs' track record for innovation, a characteristic at the heart of Apple's business. From the iMac to the iPhone, Jobs has been the driving force behind the company's rise, since he rejoined it in 1997. One only has to look at the iPad, which spawned a score of copycat tablets at this year's Consumer Electronic Show, to see how Jobs has kept Apple at the cutting edge of technology trends.

As the New York Times pointed out Tuesday morning, there are other executives and innovators besides Cook that Apple can depend on while Jobs is out. The Times names senior vice president for industrial design Jonathan Ive, marketing head Philip Schiller, and senior vice president for iPhone software Scott Forstall as leaders the company can look to for guidance. Ive is the company's point person for design and user interface; Schiller has taken on high-profile product launches; and Forstall was a main force behind Apple's move toward iOS.

Several big product announcements are likely to keep the company on track even in Jobs's absence. Verizon will begin selling iPhones early next month; the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 are expected in the first half of the year; the Mac App store is zooming on its way to 10 billion apps downloaded; and Mac OS Lion should be out by the end of the year.

After that, it's anybody's guess.

Tell us what you think: Has Jobs built a company that can survive without him? Or is Apple doomed without its iconic leader?

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 18, 2011; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  Apple, Mac  
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