With the unfortunate loss of Steve Jobs, technology news sources are speculating as to whether or not Apple, Inc. will retain its status as the world’s most valuable company. Jobs’ hands-on approach to product development established him as the company’s voice, and though COO Tim Cook was nominated by Jobs to take his place, it remains to be seen what methods Cook will ultimately adopt.

Jobs became the “face of Apple” during the past decade when he returned to the company in 1997 to restructure its product line. He spearheaded a series of highly successful product campaigns such as the iPod, which became an unprecedented hit in the MP3 player market. The iPhone also revolutionized the industry by popularizing smart phone technology. Moreover, these successes completely turned the company around, as Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy until Jobs became CEO.

Since Apple’s miraculous comeback firmly established Steve Jobs as a legendary figure in corporate history, technology news sources are concerned that his absence will significantly affect the company’s direction. Some sources are even spreading rumors that Jobs has left a secret four-year-plan for Apple management to follow, though there is no evidence that such a plan exists.

While Jobs may have been the star of the show, he claimed to have modeled Apple after The Beatles, emphasizing the importance of teamwork to accomplish great things. Although Tim Cook has shown a markedly different style of management, he has been a part of the Apple team since 1998, becoming promoted COO after streamlining the company’s supply chain to increase profit margins.

Another key player in Apple’s development team is Jonathan Ive, the lead designer behind some of Apple’s greatest products, such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad, which became immensely popular due to their aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly interfaces. While Cook and Ive have become the most visible members of the Apple team from closely working with Jobs, every member of management has played a part in Apple’s innovations.

Since Tim Cook stepped up as CEO in August, technology news sources report that he has made a few changes, such as placing its mobile advertising platform iAd under the direction of cloud services senior vice president Eddy Cue. He has also made Apple a more visible donor to charitable organizations by setting up a program that matches employee donations to nonprofit companies. Lastly, he has promoted teamwork by establishing more open lines of communication with employees.

In terms of product development, the Apple team has continued to pursue Jobs’ vision of creating a hardware and software “ecosystem” across multiple devices. The Mac OS X Lion, for instance, is expected to function more like the iPhone’s iOS to offer a seamless experience between mobile and desktop platforms. The company has also entered the arena of cloud computing with iCloud, a service that enables users to store apps, music, and other data from all their Apple devices.

With the arrival of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire, Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 and Google’s latest advances in its Android operating system, Apple is facing serious competition, but as long as they retain excellence in design and stability, the future remains bright.

Brandi Tolleson is a prolific freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA.

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