Last year the world’s media debated what Queen Elizabeth listened to on her iPod. But whatever Her Majesty’s choice in music, she must have been pleased: Jonathan “Jony” Ive, designer of the ubiquitous digital music player, was included in her New Year’s Honours list.

British-born Mr Ive, senior vice-president of design at Apple Computer, the iPod’s Silicon Valley-based maker, was made a Commander of The Most Excellent Order of The British Empire. The honour of CBE, which ranks just below a knighthood, is awarded to individuals in recognition of their contribution and services to British interests.

About 30m iPods have been sold since the gadget was launched in late 2001. As well as transforming Apple’s prospects – the company’s stock rose from $30 to $70 during 2005 – the iPod is credited with shaking up the music and personal computer industries.

The iPod Nano, its latest incarnation, was one of the top-selling consumer electronics products in the run-up to the winter holidays. Wall Street analysts expect Apple to have sold about 10m iPods in the three months to December.

Mr Ive, 38, was born and raised in London and studied design at Newcastle Polytechic, in the north of England. He has lived in California since joining Apple in 1992.

The company has turned out a string of hit products since Mr Ive was promoted to head of industrial design in 1996, starting with the translucent, candy-coloured iMac desktop computer. The original iMac sold 2m units in the year after its launch in 1998. Other successes include the titanium-clad Powerbook range of notebook computers and the third-generation iMac, which incorporates the computer into its flat-panel display.

Mr Ive reports directly to Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and chief executive, and leads a team of about a dozen industrial designers at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

In spite of the sales success of the iPod and the critical acclaim accorded to its computers, Apple’s share of the worldwide PC market remains less than 3 per cent.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
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