Apple's No. 2: Who Is Tim Cook?

Apple COO is known for operations management, lacks Jobs' showmanship skills.

ByABC News
January 17, 2011, 2:29 PM

Jan. 18, 2011— -- 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?

In a call with analysts today, Cook tried to reassure investors by taking the role of chief cheerleader.

When asked about Apple's roadmap, he said he didn't want to divulge too much because, "I don't want to let anyone know our magic, I don't want anyone copying it."

But he did say that the company is doing its best work ever and is pleased with the products currently in the pipeline.

"The team here has an unparalleled breadth and depth of talent and a culture of innovation that Steve has driven in the company. And excellence has become a habit," he said. "We feel very, very confident about the future of the company."

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."