Why did Apple drop the i-prefix from Apple Watch and Apple Pay?

“Most people expected Apple to show off an ‘iWatch’ and an ‘iPay’ or ‘iWallet’ mobile payments system to go along with it,” Shara Tibken writes for CNET. “But Cook didn’t stick to the ‘i’ moniker at all, shirking the branding that has been pervasive at the company since the iMac computer landed in 1998.”

“Why the name change?” Tibken wonders. “Apple’s not saying, but some analysts believe the Apple Watch and Apple Pay represent the Cupertino, Calif., company’s efforts to start a new era — one separate from Steve Jobs. Jobs, who died from pancreatic cancer in October 2011, had his hand in every product Apple introduced after he returned to run the company in 1997. Each iPhone and iPad released since his death built on the first devices he created, rather than something entirely new. But the Apple Watch is different.”

“The jury is still out on the Apple Watch, but at the very least, the wearable — and Apple Pay — helped Cook keep his vow that the company would enter new product categories and deliver ‘some really great stuff,'” Tibken writes. “The ‘i’ in Apple’s products came from the early ages of the World Wide Web. Many people today believe it stands for ‘me,’ but it started out as ‘i’ for “Internet.” The majority of Apple’s popular devices and services today use the moniker, including iPad, iTunes, and iCloud. Along with helping Cook make his own mark on Apple, the new naming structure could help Apple push its overarching brand, analysts say. Another theory? The ‘i’ was getting stale… The new naming convention unveiled Tuesday has become a punchline among the technorati. Even Cook accidentally referred to the device by its rumored ‘iWatch’ name in his interview with ABC News on Tuesday. Whatever the reason for the new name, Cook made clear that the company Jobs left behind hasn’t stopped innovating.”

Read more in the full article here.

37 Comments

  1. Anyone can put an “I” in front of a word (except pod, phone or pad) and sell a product: iTruck, iToilet, iPorn, iEtc. People will think it has Apple’s stamp of approval. But the Apple logo before the word makes it distinctly an Apple product. Think different.

    1. It is distinctly more difficult for another company to Anything, or Apple(anything). This gives much more control over the naming of their products. i(Anything) is dead, and Apple killed it. I am so happy about that. Apple TV was a good experience for them, as a name. I liked it when they used iPod, iMac, iPhone, but it’s just been a bag of hurt, and made Apple seem like a bully.

      Now they are unfettered to name their products without worry.

      Anyone else wanting to use Anything, from now on will just look like a douche, and Apple can probably justify stomping all over them.

      1. Agreed. Apple has had a lot of problems in recent years with Copywrite on names. So many companies followed Apple’s lead on the “i” that they’ve found almost every product category name imaginable already existing somewhere around the world with the “i” name. The  nicely nullifies that problem. No one else on earth can use that. Much easier to defend in court.

  2. Just look at all the copy cats. How many times has Apple tried to trademark an ‘iName’ in other countries and have to pay large amounts to secure the name or maybe even find themselves unable to secure the name at all?

    Just stick with the  logo and problem solved. You will see a lot more of this from now on I’m sure. Hey, it worked for Prince.

    1. Good point. Curiously (?) the mark on the top is tv (the difference being lowercase when the world uses uppercase for a TV).

      Ultimately it’s just marketing. Reading deep meaning into any of it is mental silliness, I think.

  3. When you have two different naming conventions you introduce confusion in differentiation. I have no problem with the new direction if consistent logic was applied.

    So if this is Tim’s mark, please remove “i” from every product.

    If not, the watch is a hardware product so it should retain the “i” moniker. Apple Pay is a service that does not require the same moniker. One approach for hardware and one for services.

    Now, that would be a consistent approach. 🙂

    1. At the time iMac was introduced, there was also and PowerMac, PowerBook. Over the years, we also got Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook and MacBook Air. We also got AppleTV.

      And on the “i” side of the names, we got few more mostly mobile devices (iPod, iPad, iPhone). So, the tally today is:

      AppleTV
      Mac Mini
      Mac Pro
      MacBook Pro
      MacBook Air
      Apple Watch
      Mighty mouse
      Magic mouse
      Airport Extreme
      Airport Express
      Airport Time Capsule
      Earpods…

      iMac
      iPod
      iPad
      iPhone
      iWork
      iLife

      From what I can see, the only naming confusion was introduced when iMac was announced (having the first “i” name). Majority of Apple hardware products of today don’t have the “i” naming, though.

      It is unlikely that either iPhone or iPad would ever be renamed to Apple phone or Apple pad (or PHONE / PAD). So, the naming will remain as it always was — inconsistent and perhaps confusing.

        1. Actually, my point was that inconsistent doesn’t necessarily mean a problem for Apple. Confusing would be, but I’m not sure how much confusion is there with this type of naming.

          When we take a closer look, another pattern (sort of) emerges:

          Apple- products (TV, Pay, Care)
          “i” products (Pod, Pad, Phone, Work, Life)
          Mac- products (Mini, Pro, book Air, book Pro)

          And the peripherals (Airport stuff, mice, keyboards, etc).

          I think it may be a bit too much to expect some perfect consistency across devices / product lines / services. It is really unlikely anyone was profoundly confused by these names…

            1. Well, so far, it doesn’t seem to have been much of a problem. Nobody can seriously argue that anyone out there who ever saw an iPhone and a Macintosh computer wasn’t aware that they were made by the same company, Apple.

              The “i”-naming had worked initially as it quickly enhanced the branding, but with all the persistent misspelling, there may be better options, and with Apple Watch, perhaps Apple is becoming aware of this. However, with iPhone, they’re now stuck, for better or worse.

  4. From the very beginning, there was an obvious and prevalent problem with the whole concept of iNaming convention. Outside of the rather small circle of long-time Apple fans who know exactly how to properly write these i-Names, majority or ordinary population consistently misspelled these names. Most common misspelling was I-mac (or I-phone). There were several variations of these, but the essence of the problem is, too many people never learned (in over 16 years since the first iMac came out) how to correctly spell these. Even reporters in news media too often got it wrong. It took Apple over 16 years to realise that the whole i-Naming thing simply wasn’t working all that well.

    Another problem was the awkwardness of beginning a sentence with a non-capitalised word (ex: iPhone is the highest selling model in US). This is simply in violation of virtually ALL western language grammar and style rules, which require capitalisation of the first letter of the first word in a sentence.

    Apple has built an immensely huge and immediately recognisable in the i-Name devices, from iMac, thorugh iPod, iPad and iPhone. This is the testimony to the power of the Apple brand itself, and the quality of their products. However, the fact that we still have majority of ordinary populace consistently misspelling i-Name devices (after 16 years) clearly indicates that the naming choice (or at least the choice of spelling) wasn’t perfect and it is time to begin moving away from it.

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