Jonathan Ive, Apple's design chief who holds more then 400 patents, has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, 85, an iPod user.

The British-born Ive, 44, who now lives in San Francisco, said the honor was absolutely thrilling. Ive is senior VP for industrial design at Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, where he has worked since 1997, long before Apple released millions of iPods, iPhones and iPads for which he was responsible for design.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died Oct. 5 at 56, was a design fanatic, who early on sought out some of Silicon Valley's best-known design centers, such as Frog Design, for assistance on developing products like the Macintosh computer.

Indeed, Ive's first work for Apple was via London-based Tangerine, an industrial design agency where he was on staff. In 1997, Jobs brought him to Apple fulltime.

At Apple, Ives has his own lab, special team of designers and a degree of independence not known to many other industrial designers. On the other hand, the ease of use, versatility and functionality of products like the iPod has resulted in sales of hundreds of millions of consumer electronics products at premium prices. Apple sold more than 32 million iPads in its fiscal year ended Sept. 24.

Jobs was well-known as a design fanatic who collaborated closely with Ive, who participated in the October launch of the iPhone 4S just before Jobs' death. Not known is how the partnership continues under current CEO Tim Cook, 51.

Ive was previously honored by the Queen: in 2006, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a title that doesn't confer a knighthood. In the Jan. 1, 2012 honors list, he was named a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which adds the title.

Ive is married and the father of twin sons.

Shares of Apple closed at $405 on Dec. 30, up 25.6 percent for the year, during which Apple became the world's most valuable technology company. Its market capitalization is $376.4 billion.