It’s been about nine months since Tim Cook took over as Apple’s chief executive after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs. Since then, Apple fans, analysts and critics have all been keeping a close eye on the company, with one particular question in mind: How has the successor to the legendary Jobs made his own mark on Apple?

In a lengthy piece at Fortune, Adam Lashinsky aimed to answer that very question. Boiling down the piece into a TL:DR version, it seems Cook is shaking things up by making himself more available than Jobs did, while also paying more attention to investors and employee requests.

“In some cases Cook is taking action that Apple sorely needed and employees badly wanted,” Lashinsky wrote. “It's almost as if he is working his way through a to-do list of long-overdue repairs the previous occupant (Jobs) refused to address for no reason other than obstinacy.”

Cook has been getting favorable reviews from analysts and, anecdotally, from his own employees. According to an April survey from Glassdoor based on employee assessments, Cook is the top-rated company chief executive in the country.

Employees appear to think that Cook has managed to keep Apple’s core corporate culture intact. And he’s certainly been able to keep the company’s momentum going — though the launch of the iPhone 4S and the third generation of the iPad -- feats that Apple is happy to reward. Cook was also ranked as the top-paid chief executive of a public U.S. company in a Wall Street Journal report that came out Monday, thanks to the 1 million shares of restricted stock that values Cook’s pay package at $378 million.

The question that looms over the Cupertino, Calif., tech megastar is whether it can continue to meet its own high bar of innovation and break away from a consumer electronics market that’s increasingly working to emulate its products.

Apple fans got another glimpse into the inner workings of the company this week, when Apple senior designer Jony Ive spoke with several news organizations across the pond about being knighted by Princess Anne as Sir Jonathan Ive.

In an interview with the BBC, Ive said that he plans to stay with the company to “work on trying to solve the same sort of problems we’ve been trying to solve over the last fifteen years.” He said Apple’s focus is “very disciplined, very focused and very clear” to produce the well-designed, useful products.

Ive told the Daily Telegraph that Apple’s teams develop products in “exactly the same way that we were two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. It's not that there are a few of us working in the same way: there is a large group of us working in the same way.”

During that creative process, Ive said, for a “significant percentage of the time we don't know whether we are going to have to give up on an idea or not, ” and that an important part of his job is to pull the plug on projects that he believes just won’t work.

But Ive offered a little tease in the interview when he said that the project he’s working on now could be one of the company’s most important products. And when asked to name his favorite Apple, he said: “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”

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