Friends say the roots of his success lie in his lateral thinking - finding the true appeal of an object, often ignoring the traditional approach to design. Inspiration comes from almost anywhere. The original candy-coloured iMac had its roots in gumdrops. The popular transparent Apple mouse came from thinking about how drops of water sit on a flat surface. An angle-poise desk lamp helped inspire the new iMac. The see-through outer casing of recent iBooks came from the look that food has when wrapped in clingfilm. The iPod is like a cigarette pack for those addicted to music instead of tobacco.