“The press has already dubbed this year’s [Apple smartphone] model ‘iPhone 5S.’ Most experts see a narrative in which Apple only produces a major upgrade every other year, and in between we get the ‘S’ model,” Ken Segall, co-writer of Apple’s “Think Different” ad copy, writes for Observatory. “This is the model that delivers only incremental improvements.”

Segall writes, “Whether that’s Apple’s intended message is unknown. But personally, I wish Apple never created a ‘4S.'”

“First of all, it’s an awkward moniker whether you speak it or read it… More important, tacking an S onto the existing model number sends a rather weak message. It says that this is our ‘off-year’ product, with only modest improvements,” Segall writes. “The simplest path is to give each new iPhone a new number and let the improvements speak for themselves. If anyone wants to say that the 7 isn’t as big a leap as the 6, that’s their business. Attempting to calibrate ‘degree of innovation’ in the product name seems like a needless (and self-diminishing) exercise. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for a new car, you’re looking for a 2013 model — not a 2012S.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: BINGO! It’s as if Apple is naming iPhone models solely for their own internal inventory purposes, just so they can keep track of which model is which, with no regard for how the iPhones are perceived by the rest of the world – the media, the customers, etc. – outside One Infinite Loop.

The “S” doesn’t stand for “Speed,” it stands for “Stupid.” Yes, we know it’s the same case design; we know the “S” version is the one you make the big margins on; we get it. Call it the “S” internally if you must, but don’t be so engineer-ish that you insist on calling it that on the box, too!

Before the iPhone 4S, everyone was waiting for the “iPhone 5.” When the 4S debuted, disappointment reigned. All because of the name. Nearly everything else about the phone was an improvement or a new addition (Siri).

You either leak “no iPhone 5” to a credible outlet in order to tamp down anticipation beforehand or you name the damn thing “iPhone 5,” even if you don’t think it worthy, and be done with it. The former is far preferrable to the latter for integrity’s sake, but doing neither signals a worrying degree of tone deafness. Managing the media, not to mention peoples’ expectations, is part of your job now, too, Tim.MacDailyNews, “New Apple iPhone 4S fails to wow investors, fans,” October 4, 2011

There are plenty of numbers in the universe. Infinite, actually. Don’t worry, Apple, you won’t run out. Wonder what the mood would be right now had Apple simply named “iPhone 4S” the “iPhone 5?”MacDailyNews, “Apple underwhelms with iPhone 4S,” October 4, 2011

It’s not about sales figures or the model’s success (as long as “iPhone” is in the name, it will be a success), it’s about setting a tone. In this case, with the “S,” Apple sets a tone that they are just making an incremental update (read: losing their innovation edge) which allows the media and competitors to claim, wrongly, that other companies have surpassed Apple. Why gift the naysayers with the opportunity, Apple?