Under Cook's leadership, Apple also has displayed more social responsibility by working to improve labor conditions in the overseas factories that assemble its devices and taking steps to reduce pollution caused by its data centers and gadgets.
The shift in management philosophy has resulted in an odd twist: Apple Inc.'s pace of innovation has slowed and it now looks more like a conventional company than the corporate rebel Jobs tried to cultivate. Instead of releasing revolutionary gadgets such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple has been mostly upgrading existing products and figuring out ways to manage its bulging bank account since Cook took over.
"Jobs wanted Cook to step out and be different," says longtime technology analyst Rob Enderle. "But I think he wanted [Cook] to do the things that were central to the business, not things that Jobs thought were stupid."
Cook has repeatedly sought to assure investors and customers that Apple remains focused on inventing "insanely great" products, even though the company's last breakthrough, the iPad, came out in April 2010 18 months before Jobs died of cancer.
In the meantime, a host of technology companies have forged ahead with wearable devices, including Google Glass and Samsung's line of Gear smartwatches. Also stealing the innovation spotlight: Internet connected housewares and appliances like the Nest thermostat, whose maker was founded by former Apple designer, Tony Fadell. Google purchased Nest for $3.2 billion in January.
"We've got some great things that we're working on that I'm very, very proud of and very, very excited about," Cook told analysts in a conference call last month. "But, for us, we care about every detail and when you care about every detail and getting it right, it takes a bit longer to do that and that's always been the case."
After pointing out that there were other digital music players, smartphones and tablet computers before Apple redefined those markets with its devices, Cook said something that sounded like an echo of Jobs: "It means much more to us to get it right than to be first."