CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Investors listening to Apple's ( AAPL)'s first-quarter conference call Tuesday hoping for some Steve Jobs-style showboating and fiery rhetoric were surely disappointed; a soft-spoken, somewhat reserved Southerner is now center stage at the world's biggest technology company. With Jobs on medical leave, all eyes are now focused on his No. 2, COO Tim Cook. Whereas his flamboyant boss spiced up press events and analyst calls with the occasional dig at fellow Silicon Valley firms like Adobe ( ADBE), Cook's conference call comments (save for one swipe at rival tablet makers) were much more restrained. The Alabama native instead made vague references to the "magic of Apple," while giving little away about the company's broader strategy and its succession plan.
Apple COO Tim Cook
Cook, of course, is familiar with this role. He has already taken the company's reins on two prior occasions; for two months in 2004 when Jobs was receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer, and again for six months in 2009. Widely regarded as a safe pair of hands with an intimate knowledge of Apple, the COO's status as a capable lieutenant is unquestioned. A graduate of Auburn University with an MBA from Duke, Cook held stints at Compaq and IBM ( IBM) before joining Apple as senior vice president of operations in 1998. Cook's success in this role and his subsequent job as executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations led to his promotion to COO in 2005. "We believe investors would embrace Tim Cook in any potential succession plan," said Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope in a recent note. "Many investors became comfortable with Tim Cook as the permanent CEO during Jobs' 2009 medical leave." Shope also believes that the "revolutionary" phase of Apple's mobile computing strategy, marked by technology launches such as the iPad and iPhone, is now complete. "Tim Cook appears more than qualified to shepherd this platform approach into the future," he said.