The two really important issues are the pipeline of products or sales and the succession planning. In both cases Apple seems to have done a great job of ensuring that the passing of Steve Jobs would affect the business as little as possible.
Apple just had a very successful product launch for the iPhone 4s – just a day before Jobs died. Though some critics thought the next iteration of the iPhone would be a significant improvement on the last version, those grumbles have not prevented millions from ordering the latest model.
The iPhone 5 is in development, as is the iPad 3, and the future of the iPod will be in a world where Apple unifies access to music and movie content that can be easily played using their hardware. This all means that even today Apple has several years of new product launches planned so there is no immediate concern that the loss of the co-founder will suddenly cause the company to flounder.
And Apple had Tim Cook lined up to become CEO for a number of years. As the man who was chief operating officer (COO) for the past 4 years – taking all the day-to-day management decisions – and stepping in to cover as CEO whenever Jobs was too ill to work, they have ensured continuity at the top.
Cook is a fitness fanatic who is also on the board of Nike. He is leading Apple when the company is at the top of its game. It might be argued that he will struggle to maintain the achievements of Jobs as Apple changed several industries under his leadership, but Cook is a safe pair of hands and there are several new opportunities ahead.
The way media content is consumed is going to radically change in the next few years and Apple is already thinking hard about how to make what is feasible technically easy to use for the average person. If Cook can lead Apple in that quest then he will build on the achievements of Jobs and Apple will remain one of the most important – and biggest – companies in the world today.