When Apple unveils the iPhone 5S and its budget sibling, the iPhone 5C, the gadgets will share top-billing with one man - company CEO Tim Cook, who is approaching his second year as big boss for the tech giant that preps for its 2013 flagship release date.
Almost two years at the top post also means that Mr Cook is generally doing a fine job as the successor of the flamboyant Steve Jobs. Under the former's helm, Apple zoomed up and became the world's most valuable company in terms of market capitalisation and hauled off some $150 billion cash reserves. Definitely no mean feat for a man that is dwarfed over for years by Mr Job's rock star, and now, iconic status.
He is able to deliver and with his leadership style - calculated and efficient and far different from the Jobs approach - Apple remains at the top of its game. Critics, however, couldn't help to eternally benchmark Mr Cook with the Steve Jobs superstar stature and they tend to become disappointed.
The former CEO is natural showman, thriving on drawing jaw-drops and awes during launch dates while the incumbent - laconic, assured and methodical - seems a bore but effective nevertheless. Mr Cook's record speak volumes - iOS devices remain the tech product to beat each year though Apple's headstart over its rivals, Samsung in particular, is no longer insurmountable and is dwindling by the day.
In a Reuters profiling effort, Mr Cook's leadership qualities were underscored, which to many analysts will play crucial roles in advancing the iPhone and iPad thrusts that Apple will let out this year. Five of them are listed below:
Knowledge of the game
In playing number two to Mr Jobs, Mr Cook, as COO, was fully aware of his job description - to run the tech giant's operations as smooth as possible and to unconditionally support the top honcho.
According to Reuters, Mr Cook has the understanding that part of his work duties is to fill the gap where the boss is unwilling to wade in, which means playing the roles that the CEO shies away from.
And he knows too that more is ask of him in the days ahead, which prepared Mr Cook to step up when Mr Jobs finally relinquished the big chair due to his deteriorating health.
A team player
All CEOs are known for their attention to details and the tendency to macro-manage, which is almost eternally hovering over subordinates. That was Steve Jobs and that is no Tim Cook. Pointing to an Apple insider as its source, Reuters talked about the very different management style of Mr Cook. The chief executive was willing to delegate and trust his lieutenants that they'll do their tasks as expected.
Yet he expects high accountability too.
Silent water that runs deep
Mr Jobs was known for his flare ups and very public redressing of Apple employees. None of those were seen in company meetings since Mr Cook became CEO. He listens thoughtfully to presentations and whole process takes place almost unceremoniously. Yet it doesn't mean that subordinates can underperform.
When Mr Cook utters "I don't think that's good enough," it was tantamount to a rejected pitch. "That would be the end of it and you would just want to crawl into a hole and die," Reuters quoted its source as saying in describing how the CEO kills an idea minus the humiliation.
Leadership with resolve
The iPhone 5 launch in late 2012 was marred by the funky iOS map behaviour, which quickly developed into a major embarrassment for the proud tech giant. The episode, Reuters said, defined and established the Tim Cook leadership, showing his mettle under intense pressure.
To correct the anomaly, Mr Cook fired those responsible for the debacle, including long-time Apple executive Scott Forstall and also a protégé of Mr Jobs. As part of the corrective measures, the CEO also issued a formal apology and humbly recommended the use of non-Apple navigational apps while engineers are fixing the problem.
Transparency and flexibility
Mr Cook has agreed to become more open regarding Apple's various policies that impact on sensitive social concerns such as the reportedly unsavoury working conditions that Chinese iPad and iPhone assemblers are subjected to.
In one private gathering, Mr Cook reportedly declared: "To be totally transparent ... you make a decision to report the bad and the good, and we hope that by doing that, that it puts pressure on everyone else to join," per Reuters reports.
He also showcased some form of flexibility by basing his pay check on his performance as CEO and allowing Apple investors to get better cuts on the company's deep savings, now reportedly running to more than $150 billion, Reuters said.
Mr Cook is expected to take centre-stage on Sept 10 as he leads key Apple executive in introducing the firm's new products, headlined by the iOS 7, the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C, all of which are expected to be released simultaneously in Japan and the United States by Sept 20.
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