SAN FRANCISCO — Apple (IW 500/9) remains ahead of its rivals in the ability to innovate and "create magic" despite tougher competition in key sectors like smartphones and tablets, chief executive Tim Cook said Tuesday.

Cook said Apple still has strong growth opportunities because of its ability to work simultaneously on hardware, software and services, brushing aside suggestions that Apple has passed its peak.

"Apple has the ability to innovate in all three of these spheres and create magic," Cook said during a question-and-answer session at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. "This isn't something you can just write a check for. This is something you build over decades.”

Cook declined to talk about any new products, but said he remains upbeat on Apple's ability to boost sales of its popular iPhones and iPads in markets around the world.

"I'm incredibly bullish about the future and what Apple can do," he said. "Apple has skills in hardware, in software and in services...There is no better place for innovation."

He said Apple was not planning to make a "cheap" product that failed to live up to its standards, but that he was aware that some consumers could not afford some Apple devices.

"Our North Star is always great products, not how to hit a price point," he said.

He maintained that Apple's iPhone has "tremendous momentum" in a market that is expected to triple in the coming years.

"The iPhone is available only to around 50% of the subscribers in the world," he said when asked if Apple had reached a plateau. "I see a wide open field. I don't think about that word called limit."