(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Filling in for larger-than-life Apple CEO Steve Jobs is no easy task, but COO Tim Cook must be doing something right. For the second time in two years, Jobs is handing over the reins to his multi-billion dollar tech company to Cook, his second in command.
In announcing his medical leave of absence via a company-wide e-mail on Monday, Jobs wrote, "I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011."
So who is the man who will be Apple's leader for the indefinite future, and what could Apple become if left under his control for good?
Before Jobs recruited Cook to Apple in 1998, the now 50-year-old COO held positions at IBM, Intelligent Electronics and Compaq. He graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and later earned an M.B.A. from Duke University.
Over the course of his career, analysts say he's earned a reputation as a strong performance manager, though not one with the personality or charisma of his boss.
"He's kind of like what Steve Ballmer was to Bill Gates," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "A guy that would be a very strong number two, but not by any stretch of the imagination a replacement for Steve Jobs."
Soon after Jobs' own return to Apple in 1997, he recruited Cook from his post as vice president of corporate materials at Compaq, likely impressed with the boost he gave the growing company.
At Apple, Cook continued to grow and has become a major driving force behind the company's strong and predictable financial performance, Enderle said.
But though an Apple under Cook's control may be perform well from an operations standpoint, it likely wouldn't pulse with Jobs' contagious energy.
"He's not the showman that Steve Jobs is. He doesn't have that skill set," Enderle said. "He's a good performance manager [but] he doesn't have the magic."
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