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May 12, 2014

Apple CEO dares to be different from Steve Jobs

(Continued)

SAN FRANCISCO —

Cook has repeatedly sought to assure investors and customers that Apple remains focused on inventing "insanely great" products, even though the company's last breakthrough, the iPad, came out in April 2010 — 18 months before Jobs died of cancer.

In the meantime, a host of technology companies have forged ahead with wearable devices, including Google Glass and Samsung's line of Gear smartwatches. Also stealing the innovation spotlight: Internet connected housewares and appliances like the Nest thermostat, whose maker was founded by former Apple designer, Tony Fadell. Google purchased Nest for $3.2 billion in January.

"We've got some great things that we're working on that I'm very, very proud of and very, very excited about," Cook told analysts in a conference call last month. "But, for us, we care about every detail and when you care about every detail and getting it right, it takes a bit longer to do that and that's always been the case."

After pointing out that there were other digital music players, smartphones and tablet computers before Apple redefined those markets with its devices, Cook said something that sounded like an echo of Jobs: "It means much more to us to get it right than to be first."

Wall Street is still taking a wait-and-see attitude with Cook. Apple's stock ended last week at $585.24, well below its peak of $705.07 reached in September 2012, but still a 56 percent gain since Cook became CEO. That's just slightly behind the 60 percent increase in the Standard & Poor's 500 index during the same period. Despite the lag, Apple's market value is the highest in the world at about $500 billion.

Although Cook has given few clues about the breakthrough products Apple is working on, recent industry speculation has focused on the possibility of an Internet-connected watch, a suite of mobile applications for managing personal health, a digital wallet and a system that would make it easier to toggle between traditional television and Internet video programs. A new iPhone with a larger display screen is also expected in August or September.

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