Blog Post

iPhone or not: What’s in a Name?

iPhone BackWith the lawsuit against Apple by Cisco over the iPhone trademark, the Apple iPhone name is not etched in metal, literally.

The back of the iPhone is branded with the Apple logo only. The iMac has “iMac” written on the back of it, the iPod has “iPod” engraved on it, the Apple TV has an Apple logo with the letters “tv” on it. The Mac Pro and the Mac mini do not have labels – but then again, these devices are not on display as much as an iPod or an iMac.

When people see an iMac or an iPod for the first time they look at the device from all angles. Apple’s showpieces have their names proudly emblazoned somewhere on them. The Apple iPhone is certainly another showpiece – it is the showpiece from Macworld this year. Yet, it does not have its name etched on its backside.

“We are calling it iPhone.” That statement has a bit of weasel language. Just because “we” – in other words, Apple, Inc. – are calling it iPhone doesn’t mean its official name is iPhone. When the iPod was first introduced, Steve Jobs stated, “That product is called ‘iPod.'” The nano introduction also featured a declaration – “It’s called the ‘iPod nano,'” Steve Jobs announced. No weasel language there, but there is ambiguity in this year’s Macworld keynote.

Apple introduced us to the Apple TV as the iTV several months ago. It was specifically noted that “iTV” was a code name. Steve Jobs stated, “internally we call it iTV.” The language “*Project code name only” prominently appeared on the screen along with the device. The name change to Apple TV did not create any fervor or confusion. The name change was accepted partly because its official introduction became quickly overshadowed by the introduction of the iPhone. Apple has previously warned of name changes, perhaps the ambiguous language at the Macworld 2007 keynote signals a potential name change as well.

While the phone was referred to throughout the keynote and by the press as the iPhone, Apple could simply rebrand the device. They announced the device six months ahead of its expected release date. That is plenty of time to rename the product or work out a deal with Cisco (although, it probably is not enough time for a full fledged lawsuit to run its course).

Lastly, Apple only makes one phone at this time. No matter what they call it, you will be able to walk into a store and ask for the Apple phone. The retailer will know what you are talking about. No matter what it is called, it’s still a cool phone.

33 Responses to “iPhone or not: What’s in a Name?”

  1. Why not just call it an Apple? “Hey, you have one of those new Apples, cool!” Sometimes a thing is what it is and when it comes to Apple it’s things are Apples. “How do you like them Apples?”

  2. Dear Apple,
    Please call it ipod:phone. It’s really an evolved device from your ipod category. Don’t subjegate the ipod by having a phone with ipod built in. The device is an ipod with a phone built in. Thanks,
    Someone who really wants one.

  3. I’m bettings on something like iFone, let’s not forget the ambiguity of the actual hardware in question, a widescreen ipod, a phone and a revolutionairy web browsing device. Saying that ‘iWeb Browing Device’, how would tech nerds shave that onto their heads?

  4. My bettings on something like iFone, let’s not forget the ambiguity of the actual hardware in question, a widescreen ipod, a phone and a revolutionairy web browsing device. Saying that ‘iWeb Browing Device’, how would tech nerds shave that onto their heads?

  5. Motorcycle Guy is right. I mean look, the most populart smart phone right now is called the “Blackberry”. The name is really unimportant. They’ll probably work out the iPhone thing, anyway.

  6. When the “iPhone” is released, rest assured that the name will be laser etched, the last process on the manufacturing line. That way they can manufacture units to meet product demand when the “Apple Phone” is released…

  7. In my opinion iPhone will stick. There are at least five companies now using iPhone on their packaging and web sites. In addition there is an web site. The courts will that Apple (logo) iPhone is a FAIR use of what is now a generic name. Cisco also dropped the ball on putting out a verified product prior to their oaten expiring according to one patent lawyer. Whatever. iPhone is now a generic name. Anyone asking for an Apple iPhone will not be expecting else but the real macoy

  8. Karl badde

    I think Apple is going through a phase creating more awareness to be known as Apple to get more Focus on the brand. MacBook Pro instead of Powerbook and MacBook instead of iBook (dropping the i for internet though that laptop was advertised as blog and podacasting machine) show that easily. Another example would be AppleTV.
    iPod is a brand quite hard to get away from so what to do do with the phone since Apple relates it to the iPod to get it sold? Should they let Cingular get away with their patent for iPhone selling their own product in cooperation with Cingular?
    I want to have an iPhone
    I dunno which iPhone, i just want to have that cool phone that guy in the office has!

    Should we go with ApplePhone and risk people will get even more confused?
    I want the Apple iPhone, please
    This was the only way to go. Get attention from iPod users and get the appleish-iThing-name-thing back to Apple again.