We are talking about Jobs. Even without him, I presume that Jonathan Ives can still do industrial design at a high level.
And as far as losing it's "lead", even after Apple played catch up with the iPod (it wasn't the prime mover in portable music devices at launch time), they still haven't lost it.
They take software principles and apply it to hardware. From one product release to the next, there's incremental improvements, hardly anything dramatic.