As long as he was handpicking his successor, you’d think Jobs would have chosen someone in his own image, but he and Cook, who was Jobs’ COO at Apple, are in a lot of ways diametrical opposites. Jobs was loud, brash, unpredictable, uninhibited and very often unshaven. Cook isn’t. He doesn’t look like the CEO of Apple, he looks more like an Apple product: quiet, tidy, carefully curated, meticulously tooled and at the same time strangely warm and inviting. He doesn’t look like Jobs, he looks like something Jobs would have made. Cook’s flawless cap of white hair could have been designed by Jony Ive and fabricated in China out of brushed aluminum.
And like an Apple product, Cook runs smooth and fast. When Jobs died on Oct. 5, 2011, of pancreatic cancer, there were questions about whether Cook could lead Apple. Some, myself included, wondered whether Apple was even a viable company without Jobs. Since then Cook has gone about his business apparently unintimidated by his role as successor to one of the greatest innovators in history. Cook’s record hasn’t been flawless, but he has presided in a masterly way over both a thorough, systematic upgrading of each of the company’s major product lines and a run-up in the company’s financial fortunes that can only be described as historic.