Tim Cook: The New Steve Jobs?

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Paul Sakuma / AP

Tim Cook will take over CEO Steve Jobs' responsibilities while he is on leave, though Jobs said he plans to remain involved in major strategic decisions.

Steve Jobs' announcement that he will take a six-month leave of absence from Apple to tend to "health-related issues" has sent the company's stock tumbling and gadget-lovers pouring into online forums to gossip on the gravity of Jobs' condition. It's only natural that Apple's fans would fret: in Silicon Valley, Jobs is a mock-turtleneck-clad deity, a leader synonymous with his company's brand — and its success. But analysts believe Apple will be in good hands while the CEO convalesces. The man stepping into Jobs' New Balance sneakers, chief operating officer Tim Cook, is viewed as a brainy and capable leader who has has long helped steer Apple's ship behind the scenes.

Fast Facts:

• An Alabama native, Cook earned a bachelor's degree in 1984 from Auburn University, where he majored in industrial engineering, and an M.B.A. from Duke University

• Previously worked for rivals IBM and Compaq, and served as COO of computer reseller Intelligent Electronics

• Joined Apple in 1998 to streamline the company's jumbled manufacturing and distribution operations. He was promoted to COO in 2005. In that role, he has overseen Apple's worldwide operations, including supply chain, support and sales services as well as its Macintosh division.

• A bachelor, Cook is known as a workaholic — he often fires off emails in the wee hours of the morning — and a workout fanatic. He is an admirer of Lance Armstrong and an avid Auburn Tigers fan

• Though he earns $700,000 a year, he's been a beneficiary of a hefty amount of stock: he's sold more than $100 million worth since joining Apple. Despite his wealth, he rents a house in Palo Alto

• In 2004, when Jobs took a leave of absence during his treatment for pancreatic cancer, Cook stepped into the CEO's post for two months

Quotes by Cook:

• "Come on, replace Steve? No. He's irreplaceable."
Fortune, Nov. 10, 2008

• "Why are you still here?"
— To a colleague, thirty minutes after Cook remarked to that same coworker that Apple's Asian operations had encountered a problem and "someone should really be in China driving this." Fortune, Nov. 10, 2008

• "You see the world differently."
— On receiving a misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Auburn Magazine, Winter 1999

Quotes about Cook:

• "Tim runs Apple, and he has been running Apple for a long time now. Steve is the face of the company and very involved with product development but Tim is the guy who takes all those designs and turns it into a big pile of cash."
—Michael Janes, the first general manager of Apple's online store, Wired, Jan. 14, 2009

• "Though he's capable of mirth, Cook's default facial expression is a frown, and his humor is of the dry variety. In meetings he's known for long, uncomfortable pauses, when all you hear is the sound of his tearing the wrapper of the energy bars he constantly eats."
Fortune, Nov. 10, 2008

• "He's wickedly smart and he doesn't have a big ego."
—John Landforce, a former executive at a computer store chain who often dealt with Cook, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2006

• "[Cook] was considered a leader, and he was a really, really good student — well-liked by his peers, always prepared, tough, but fair. We would have predicted great things for him, although it would have been difficult to predict he'd head one of the world's most iconic brands."
—Blair Sheppard, dean of Duke University's Fuqua Business School, The Street.com, Jan. 15, 2009