Tim Cook’s big moment

Gadget geeks may be focused solely on what the new features of the iPhone will be, but business nerds will be equally interested in what’s happening at Apple today, as chief executive Tim Cook takes the stage.

Cook, who was Apple’s chief operating officer before succeeding Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in August, has already proven that he knows how to run the company. With two stints as interim CEO under his belt, Cook also presided over Apple as it solidified its place as the most valuable company in the world.

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But he’s not the showman that Jobs is. Events like the one Apple is holding Tuesday were what made Jobs the face of the company. His keynotes were so smooth and effective that they have been emulated by other tech CEOs such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. And while both of those men have been called the “next Steve Jobs,” that title has never been applied to Cook.

Cook is known as a quiet, private man. While he was acting as CEO, Cook left the bulk of the presentations to marketing head Phil Schiller and others. Even now, it’s expected that Cook will spend less time on the stage than Jobs did and will pass parts of the presentation off to other lead executives in the company.

And that’s not a bad thing. It’s clear that Cook can keep the company running, and running well. But what he’ll have to prove to Apple’s fans today is that the company hasn’t lost the spark of innovation and excitement that was so closely identified with his predecessor. Showcasing the talent that’s at Apple by spreading around the speaking responsibilities is a good way to show that Jobs’ transition to chairman hasn’t changed much, if anything, at the company.

In reality, it’s likely nothing has changed. Whatever Apple unveils Tuesday was undoubtedly in the pipeline when Jobs stepped down to become the company’s chairman, and the company culture didn’t change overnight. But it’s important for Apple to communicate that with its presentation in order to keep its fans and investors from getting nervous — or worse, nostalgic.

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