Apple chief designer gets knighthood always denied to Steve Jobs
Jonathan Ive gets second set of spurs with KBE, from Queen's New Year honors List
A full day before 2012 is even due to start comes the first story of the year with the classic earmarks of one that will spark another mini-fire-fight in the ongoing flamewar between Apple Fanboi and anti-Fanboi forces: Jonathan Ive, senior vice president, industrial design at Apple, has been made a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in honor of his accomplishments for Apple.
The story, though meaningless in technological or computer-industry terms, is a clear indication of approval of Apple's design approach, independence and iconic coolness – characteristics in which fanbois revel and cause anti-fanbois to froth at the mouth.
The intensity of that rivalry seems to have been fading as the impact and status of Apple in legitimate IT infrastructures grows and the entire mobile-computing industry plods along design paths broken by Apple, primarily by Ive and Steve Jobs himself.
The London-born Ive, who goes by the name Jony and should use the title "Sir Jonathan," will be permitted to use the title "Sir Jony," is number 1029 of the 1,290 who made the Queen's New Year Honours List of those given a variety of awards for accomplishments ranging from those of the ex-gang member turned anti-gang youth worker, to an icon of British tweed weaving to those of great artistic accomplishment , excellence in sports to those who do political favors for the leading members of the British government.
The 44-year-old Ive has worked at Apple since 1992, becoming Steve Jobs' favorite design guru and leading design projects for the iPod, iPhone, iPad and MacBooks.
The KBE is the second honor for Ive, who was given the lower-level Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005.
There is an elaborate hierarchy of knighthoods and related honors granted by the Queen (though largely controlled by politicians), gamely mapped out by Fortune. The differences among them are interesting, but useless in practical terms ever since their varying rights of rape, pillage and taxation-at-swordpoint were removed sometime during the Enlightenment.
Steve Jobs never was given a knighthood, though he was scheduled to receive one in 2009. Then-prime-minister Gordon Brown reportedly deleted him from the honors list for refusing to speak at a Labour Party conference.
Americans are not technically allowed to accept a knighthood, which amounts to an acknowledgment of allegiance to a foreign government and acceptance of a role as monarch's operative-at-arms.
They are permitted to accept honorary knighthoods, however, an honor accepted by former presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush as well as Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.
Americans receiving the honor may use KBE as an honorific after their names, but not call themselves "Sir Steve," as British citizens are afterward compelled to do.
Ive won't have any problem with that, though you can count on his title being abused by Apple-haters looking for another reason to accuse Apple and its designers of focusing on frills and frou-frou rather than real technological innovation.
The endless conflict among fanbois is largely irrelevant, at this point, which is a good thing now that there is so much greater a risk that Sir Jony will mount up and ride against them (which he'll do as soon as someone builds good earphones and a Bluetooth connection into a jousting helmet so Sir Jony and his cronies can listen to music or talk on their iPhones during the battle.