What’s a Name, Anyway?

by Christopher Paul on September 7, 2012

With fall product announcements in full swing, everyone was speculating what Apple’s new iPhone will be called. We know believe it’s going to be called the iPhone 5 but still have no idea what a new, smaller, iPad will be called (if it even exists though everyone thinks it’s a matter of when not if).

Since I started thinking about possible names, Apple’s invite went out and everyone assumed that the phone will be called the iPhone 5 even though it’s strictly not the fifth iPhone. Motorola announced three new Android phones with crazy names. Nokia announced a new phone with a slightly familiar brand. And Amazon launched a slew of new devices under the Kindle identity.

More and more people started writing about the names of these devices and a simple link/commentary post wasn’t enough for me. So I’m curating a few links here with some rather interesting insight into the naming of things.

First off: Horace Dediu’s article, 5, where he talks about Apple’s naming history and how, with some products and time, the conventions have changed.

Next, I’ll want to point you to Marko Savic’s post: The Naming of Things where he breaks down Apple’s core naming convention. It builds on Dediu’s article and he offers a bit more insight on the pricing and use of the device and the connotations that get promoted with a name.

Then, read MG Siegler’s quick link on the new Motorola phones. I’ve always been confused with phone names and numbering conventions and their’s is no different. When I saw a friend on Facebook ask for an Android phone recommendation I looked up the new models and couldn’t track the differences in the dozens of models that are offered. Motorola isn’t the only one who does this but it is confusing. In the end, I didn’t even bother to research an Android phone to use. My instinct was to say iPhone 5 and the sales clerks would just point them to the phone of their choice, anyway.

Jerry Herman is next with a quick reason why Apple dropped the number convention from this year’s iPad.

Finally, a small deviation from phones and tablets to Apple’s OS X where XKCD humorously points out that there are ‘problems’ with Apple’s desktop/laptop naming convention.

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