No company as large and with as many products and brand status as Apple is devoid of problems. This week there was a bug in macOS High Sierra. The week before many bugs were squashed in iOS. If it’s not one thing, it’s always something.
What is lurking around the halls of Apple’s new Apple Park spaceship campus are product naming problems born in the last century that Apple hasn’t completely fixed here in the 21st century. In 1998 Steve Jobs launched the iMac. The Internet Mac. Brilliant. Then things got out of hand.
What’s In A Name?
Branding is everything at Apple and the company’s instantly recognizable logo is the umbrella for a dozen other brands, each recognized by its name, though some remain relics of the recent past. iMac? Then there was iBook, iPod, iMovie, iTunes… see where this is going? Along the way Apple picked up iPhone, iWeb, iCal, iWork, and… need I go on? Sure. Why not? iPhone and iPad. Whew.
Apple became the iDevice company where every device– even without iName– became an iName product. People still call Watch iWatch. iPod touch? It’s iTouch. See the problem? Wisely, Apple has begun to shed some of the iSkin names. iPhoto became Photos. Simple rules. Beyond iMac we have Mac mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro. iPhone and iPad rename but even those names have their own tiers. iPhone X and iPad Pro are at the top of the tiers.
Apple managed to go straight to Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. AirPods got some heritage from iPad Air but no iEar. That’s good. iTunes remains, but no iTV or iMusic. Simple is better.
Here’s where the problems from the past come to haunt Apple of the future.
First, the Mac. iMac is fine. It’s a desktop Mac and something of a modernized relic of computer days from yesteryear. MacBook? It looks and works and is about as powerful as the low end and similarly priced MacBook Pro? Differentiation is thinly veiled here. That’s wrong.
Second, the iPhone X. X is fine but it’s a Roman numeral and that’s archaic as you can get without it being written by God on some stones handed down to Moses. Let’s call it iPhone X as in EX, otherwise the year after next, after iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus become iPhone 9 and iPhone 9 Plus, the year after it would be iPhone 10 and iPhone 10 Plus and at the high end iPhone XI. See? We’ll be living in naming convention stupidland by 2019.
This numbering system could have no end. Can you imagine ordering iPhone 17? Or, iPhone 17 Plus? How about some simplicity, Apple? iPhone SE at the low end. iPhone and iPhone Plus in the mid-range models, and iPhone X and iPhone X Plus (or, Pro– that would be good)– pronounced EX– at the high end, always the latest and greatest?
See? Simplicity. Say thank you, Apple.
What about the Mac? Same thing. Let’s start with a sub-$1,000 Mac SE which runs macOS Bakersfield on an ARM chip. No Windows. No Linux. Then, a full-fledged MacBook, a more powerful and feature laden MacBook Pro, an iMac and iMac Pro, and, finally, a Mac Pro. See how easy that was.
Along the way, Apple, clean up the iPad line, too. If you’re going to keep an iPad mini price it less than the 9.7-inch entry-level iPad. Keep the more powerful and feature laden iPad Pro models. With the exception of iMac, iPhone, and iPad, Apple has almost cleansed itself of the iRelic naming convention. iMovie, iTunes, and iMessage need to be updated to make it through the rest of the 21st century.
Mark my words. By 2020 Apple will have changed a few product names or have a silly naming convention problem on its hands.