As expected, the first question during Apple’s (AAPL) earnings call this afternoon was about CEO Steve Jobs, who announced last week that he was taking a lengthy medical leave.
Chief operating officer Tim Cook, who is taking over Steve’s day-to-day duties, answered how he had to: By trying to persuade Wall Street that Apple will continue to thrive without Steve.
Tim Cook’s lengthy monologue:
“There is an extraordinary breadth and depth and tenor among the Apple executive team. These executives lead over 35,000 employees that I would call all wicked smart. And that’s in all areas of the company from engineering to marketing to operations and sales and all the rest.
And the values of our company are extremely well entrenched.
We believe that we’re on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We’re constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple, not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make. And participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollenization of our groups which allow us to innovate in ways that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company — and we have the self honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
And I think regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.“
We think Apple will be fine without Steve for now — at least over the next several months. But Apple is eventually at risk of gradually losing its lead. And even with its deep management bench, it’s hard to see the company as strong without Steve as it is with Steve.