Is Apple dropping ‘i’ from Product Names?

Story of ‘i’ begins:

In 1988, the iMac started as one of the most iconic name trends in Apple history. The lowercase ‘i’, according to the creative director of Apple at the time originally stood for the ‘Internet’ but was loosely implying other qualities such as imagination, inspiration and so on. It was short and easy to pronounce and definitely had a better tune to it than Mac-man which was somewhat bizarre, what Steve Jobs was planning to call the computer and it made its beginning on iMac. The lowercase ‘i’ became synonymous with Apple products including legendary devices like iPod, the iPhone, and iPad as well as services like iTunes and iCloud since then.

For a while, it seemed like ‘i’ was something that was going to be the name of almost every new Apple product coming forward.

But then in the early 2010, Apple stopped using this naming scheme almost completely and they don’t seem to be the only one doing this.

Microsoft and Google are going through the similar rebranding of their own as well, indicating that as probably more of an industry trend.

Is Apple dropping ‘i’ from Product Names?
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Apple is Rebranding but why?

Let’s take a look at why exactly these rebrandings are happening now and what the strategy will be like in the coming years?

The trouble for iDevice branding started with Apple’s first-ever Tv box in 2007.  Instead of being called iTv which is what the public had expected, this device named as Apple Tv.

It’s clear that abandoning the ‘i’ branding wasn’t entirely voluntary or staged though as Steve Jobs repeatedly called the device the iTv during its launch event.

The name was simply taken by the British television channel iTv, so  Apple didn’t have much of a choice but to find an alternative.

In 2011, after the death of Steve Jobs, the abandoning of the ‘i’ branding became a part of Apple’s strategy, renaming existing parts one by one – so, ichat became messages, iphotos as photos, and iTunes will soon be phased out in favor of the Apple Music for example.

Apple under  Tim Cook  has not launched a single new product with lowercase ‘i’, but the company doesn’t seem ready to forcefully rebrand well-established and iconic product names like that of the iPhone, iPad or iCloud just yet but they will definitely grab the chance to retire a name whenever they can,  marking it a pretty clear long term direction.

Why is Apple dropping its iconic naming Scheme?

The most obvious reason appears to be a legal one of course. They don’t own the letter ‘i’, because of that it has to apply for each ‘i’ branded product which it might or might not win. There are some legal clashes that seemed fairly legitimate like around the iTV trademark which we’ve talked about before but also around the iPhone for example which belongs to Cisco, which Apple has to settle a lawsuit with but since Apple got larger, a lot of new players have entered the game holding trademarks that seem a lot more unorthodox.

Is Apple dropping ‘i’ from Product Names?
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The iPhone trademark for the Chinese market with all caps IPHONE is owned by a Chinese leather goods market Xin ton Tiandi.

Despite continuous lawsuits and the iPad trademark for the Chinese market again, which Apple tried to acquire ahead for the purse is claimed by another local company that actually cost Apply to 60 million dollars as a settlement in order to avoid having their products banned altogether.

And it’s not just China, the iWatch trademarks which Apple tried to get apparently are owned by two incredible companies that are definitely worth taking a closer look at :-

  • Pro-bendi: –
Is Apple dropping ‘i’ from Product Names?
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Pro-bendi whose entire homepage is essentially dedicated to letting you know that the only iWatch trademark that exists and that they will definitely sue anyone for its misuse.

In case you were wondering what the company sees as its core business probe and does, of course, claim that they are a very serious business, not just a shell company that holds trademark and that iWatch happens to be an app where I think the user can submit emergency photos and all the snippets.

It’s pretty unclear to me what these emergencies are supposed to be about or where anyone would submit them.

The app itself is a thing of beauty, two reviews on Google Play Store bot with one star and screenshots from the app that literally have the lowest resolution sample images possible and some very legitimate-looking lorem ipsum placeholder text definitely look like a real app.

For some reason Play Store has removed their app from their store so now I can’t share images with you.

  • OMG Electronics:
Is Apple dropping ‘i’ from Product Names?
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Another slightly more legitimate-looking trademark holder of the iWatch is OMG Electronics which doesn’t only have a great name but at least put some effort into having something that looks like Smartwatch.

It never got past the Indie GoGo stage of course. In fact, a campaign failed pretty miserably and the watch that they demoed seems to run standard media tech SmartWatch OS meaning it is probably off-the-shelf hardware that they were just planning to buy from China and rebrand as iWatch but at least they made a demo video for it, which isn’t complete garbage.

So, I appreciate that either way its pretty clear to see that Apple having a naming scheme that is predictable to pretty much everyone but isn’t predictably trademark appalled by Apple, it’s just going to keep causing them trademark disputes all over the world either with the companies that are legitimate or with moths that just want to extort a little bit of money out of them.

Beyond just trademark disputes there are of course other reasons to leave this branding scheme behind as,  well to start with ‘i’ standing for internet has become a little meaningless by now.

Pretty much everything is connected to the internet anyway, on top of that the ‘i’ just feels a little dated in my opinion and also evokes a sort of gadget feel which I think Apple is trying to move away from especially with the Apple Watch.

I bet Apple wanted people to think of it primarily as a luxury lifestyle product and not as a gadget with processors and antennas and whatnot. As Apple is moving further into luxury and lifestyle territories, I think they want people to think less and less about gadgetry stuff,  meaning that the ‘i’ just doesn’t convey the right message anymore.

In my opinion, Apple wants to focus more and more on its mater brand ‘The Apple’ rather than putting the emphasis on brands.

Putting the master brand into the names of their products get an extra bit of exposure and doing this is a pretty popular trend with other tech giants too.

Taking Microsoft, for example, they’re slowly de-emphasizing sub-brands in exchange for its Microsoft master brand like rebranding Windows Azure, Windows Defender and the Windows Store.

Google is shifting focus to its Google’s master brand the Andriod Market, Andriod Pay, and many others have been Google.

Most of there hit and new products are assistant, photos app and even their phone prominently carried the Google brand, not so much the android one.

Conclusion: –

I think all three of these companies are trying to achieve pretty much the same thing with the shift in branding. They’ve all recognized that their product portfolios are becoming larger and more complex and they’re also becoming cross-platform, so Apple Music comes to Andriod for example, Microsoft edge comes to IOS and Andriod for example and so on and so these complex cross-platform portfolios they need sort of naming scheme that makes sense across platforms and is also simple and descriptive. If I have to make a prediction, I’ll say Apple will probably just keep doing what they’ve done for the last couple of years which is that instead of doing one big rebranding where they changed the name of everything just for the sake of getting rid of ‘i’, they’ll probably face product names out one by one as they either leave the pro-portfolio or as they get a big new refresh that’s probably the best time to give them a new name.

Anyway, finding a good name for a product or a brand is such a weird little science which on its own is weird as so much goes into it.

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