Why Tim Cook Won't Kill Apple's Mystique

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is significantly more open than his predecessor, the company's iconic co-founder Steve Jobs. But will this hurt the tech giant?

Since taking over permanently from Jobs in August 2011, Cook has been highly visible, appearing at investor conferences and has also espoused increased transparency in Cupertino. The new CEO has also been more approachable than Jobs, according to an article in Fortune.

A key part of Apple's mystique, though, was the secrecy with which Jobs shrouded both the company's products, and himself. Apple even prompted comparisons with the CIA.

In fact, Kara Swisher of AllThingsD recently asked Cook whether it was his goal to create his own version of the CIA, in a clear nod to the secrecy of the Jobs era.

Jobs was intent on keeping details about the latest Apple products secret, something that will continue under Cook. "We're going to double down on secrecy on products," he recently said at a conference. The new CEO, however, wants Apple to be more transparent in other areas such as supplier responsibility and environmental issues. Cook was also vocal about his plans to rethink the company's dividend strategy, which he achieved earlier this year.

There's intense interest in how Apple runs its ship, with countless Web sites devoted to the company's news and rumors. This phenomenon, of course, contributes to Apple's mystique as much as the firm's products.

Cook's changes, though, may not hurt Apple in the long run, despite being more open than his predecessor. Ironfire Capital's Eric Jackson (a contributor for TheStreet) believes that Cook is shaping Apple for a changing world. "I'm actually in favor in Tim being his own man, rather than trying to put himself into the box of 'what Steve would have done,'" Jackson noted in an email. He is long Apple shares.

Many believed that Jobs' impact on the company he co-founded with Ron Wayne and Steve Wozniak would be too big for one man, but Cook has lived up to the challenge so far. "I think Steve expected Apple to adapt to fit a changing world. I truly believe the greatest gift he will leave to the company, its employees, and users will be his succession plan," Jackson said in his email.

Channing Smith, portfolio manager at Capital Advisors Growth Fund believes Apple and Cook will continue to set the bar high, and says nothing should change. "As an investor why would you want anything to change at Apple?" he said, via email. Smith is long Apple shares.

The differences between Cook and Jobs, though, are abundantly clear, and have never been more so following the tech titan's passing in October. Cook is an operations genius, having markedly changed Apple's supply chain. Jobs was the product visionary. He knew what people wanted before they wanted it, and helped craft aesthetically pleasing products.

When Cook took over from Jobs, people wanted to know if Apple could continue to innovate and execute once it ran through the pipeline of Jobs-approved products. "Jury is still out on that because, clearly, Jobs was likely irreplaceable on the product development front. So no - Tim Cook can't be Steve Jobs in the one way that is most important," said one hedge fund analyst, long Apple, who declined to be named.

Nonetheless, Apple's momentum does not appear to be slowing anytime soon. In fact, it appears to be increasing, given the company's most recent financial results. Apple's future lies in its iPhones, iPads, Macs and iPods, and whether consumers will continue to come out in droves for each new product, the hedge fund analyst noted, and not because of Cook's or Jobs' personality traits.

"...I don't think it matters one bit if he is different on other fronts - different investor relations, public relations, disclosure styles will not be what makes or sinks this company," added the hedge fund analyst. "Apple succeeded despite those particular quirks of Steve Jobs, not because of them."

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York