Why Apple dropped the ‘i’

“Something interesting happened last year. In many ways, 2014 marked the beginning of the end of Apple’s signature ‘i’ branding,” Evan Niu writes for The Motley Fool. “In fact, the last time Apple launched anything with the ‘i’ brand was iCloud in 2011. That was four years ago.”

“Last year marked the first major introduction of a new product category in several years, and Apple’s first smartwatch was officially named Apple Watch — not iWatch,” Niu writes. “Apple’s new payment service was also dubbed Apple Pay — not iPay. Apple continued this trend this year with the launch of its on-demand music streaming service Apple Music — not iMusic.”

“The original iMac was the first product to incorporate the ‘i’ branding, which was launched nearly two decades ago in 1998,” Niu writes. “Since appending ‘i’ to the beginning of a word is infinitely reproducible, the result over time has been a significant dilution of the brand. Apple doesn’t want that. It doesn’t want to be associated with the countless number of companies trying to piggyback on its branding. Instead, shifting to an ‘Apple [product or service]’ is a better solution because it is easier to defend and less generic.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, keep the ones you already have buttoned up (iMac, iOS, iPhone, iPad, iPod, iCLoud), but everything new starts with Apple, like, for example, “Apple Car.”

29 Comments

  1. Apple wants people stop people from using terms like “iPad” for products that are not even produced by Apple. Too many folks call Samsung’s tablets “ipad”.

    Dropping “i” — at least for new products — and keeping simple names would force people always pronounce word “Apple” along with the name itself, which will improve brand’s worth and recognition.

    However, with two different approaches kept in place, there is no consistency. Theoretically, Apple can move off from even “iPhone” name — and start calling it “Apple Phone”, but I am not sure that consistency is worth of this hassle.

    Besides, some users are annoyed that they now have to use two words for some of Apple’s products; so the change of approach is not welcome by everyone.

    (By the way, first noticeable departure from “i” branding was coming of Apple TV, though it was not voluntary: securing “iTV” from the likes of ITN and other companies that own “ITV” brands in different fields was not really possible.)

    1. What of my Apple cart and horse?

      Don’t I have first dibs on that name because I carry my Apples on my cart and use my horse to shift them both to market!! 🙂

  2. Actually, I believe that Steve Jobs was the first “i” branding, when he became interim CEO – iCEO – before he formally took the job full time (sort of, since he was also CEO of Pixar at the time.

    1. Actually, “appended to the front” is correct and “prepended” is incorrect. “Prepend” means to consider or ponder. However, geeks have been using it to be hypercorrect for so long that “append to the front” has become a meaning of “prepend.” It sounds pretentiously geeky to me, so I avoid it myself.

      There has also been some confusing about the plural of “virus.” Since it is a Latin word, some have attempted to form a Latin plural, but “viri” is the Latin word for “men.” Hence the imaginary form “virii.” However, “virus” is not a second-declension noun, so the Latin plural of “virus” is “virus.”

      It’s much easier to use the English plural, which is viruses.

      It’s amazing how the language gets mangled when geeks try to look literary.

  3. OR, the proliferation of “i” copyrights by scalpers on every imagined type of product could have forced Apple to abandon the iWhatever, since others had copywrited most of the them.

  4. I believe Apple (noun) products are much easier to protect.

    There is only one Apple computer corporation, therefore it would seem if another company used Apple (something) it’s perfectly clear what’s going on, and Apple can defend itself in claiming that name. While i(anything) was way too open for adoption by other companies because of the Internet connotation. Steve really set Apple up for a challenge when he decided, rightly so, to go with iMac. It really should have stopped there, and then the rest should have been AppleTunes, ApplePhone, ApplePod etc. Although iPod really rolls off the tongue nicely.

    Just saying, it’s difficult to watch Apple having to mess with legal matters relating to procuring namespace with the “i” moniker.

  5. WOW. Im shocked that a blog that follows apple that much doesn’t know the real reason they dropped the “i”. Steve Jobs admitted couple years ago the “i” stood for internet because the iMac was an internet device. The reason they didn’t call it the iWatch is because they could not. A company in europe already made it known for the past 2 years if apple come out with a watch called iWatch they would sue because they own the name. And as far as music and pay is because those are not devices that connect to the internet. those are services.

    1. The i in iMac did indeed originally stand for Internet. But very quickly, the i came to mean “a consumer product from Apple.” iPhoto, iMovie, iLife, etc. were not devices that connected to the Internet.

      Your other point is correct — now that the world is filled with i-products, it’s almost impossible to find a new i-name that isn’t claimed by another company.

    2. Wait…a company in Europe was threatening to sue so Apple backed off? Um, for what, 10M? 20M? Yeah, I don’t think that would stop ’em.

      It’s more likely part of an intentional move across all products and services to drop the ‘i’, which is much less relevant in meaning today and/or pretty tired.

    1. I agree. The iPhone 7 should be the first version of the Apple Phone and start the rebranding. Personally I would keep the iMac, and also the “Mac” branding for the computers.

      Another benefit (not mentioned in the MDN version I didn’t read the original) is that if someone were to register a domain name “iwatch” and sell watches apple couldn’t use TradeMark to try and get them to release the domain and the person may hold it hostage for millions or more. By having the company name (which is not only a word but a logo), it prevents people from doing stuff like that.

  6. The iMac came out at a time when people avoided products with the name Apple attached to it. Now it is the opposite.
    Plus all at the good “i” names are taken now, by other people.

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