Remember all the mindless chatter when Apple risked legal entanglement with Cisco for the right to use the name “iPhone”?
Cisco rightfully owns the trademark for iPhone. And Apple can’t sue them or bully them into giving it up. The tech world had taken the title for granted, assumed it to be proper, plastered it over magazine covers, and now the name is lost. Which means Apple’s iPhone, if there even is an iPhone, will have to be named something else. It’s a big deal, if you think about what that name meant.
Apple never designated the original product iPhone 1G or iPhone 2G. Introduced as a convergence device, it was simply called iPhone. The next version last year (twice as fast, at half the price) was named iPhone 3G.
The “3G” part was referencing the speed upgrade from 2.5G/2.75G (EDGE) to 3G (HSPA), not its generational order. Only after the introduction of the iPhone 3G did it make sense to refer to the original as iPhone 2G, but that’s not Apple’s nomenclature.
Give us the name
Beyond simple versioning, however, product names often foretell Apple’s ambitions with a given product. Whatever value theme Apple will wrap around the next iPhone, it will likely be reflected in its name. Let’s consider some possibilities:
• iPhone 3G+ Too nerdy for Apple.
• iPhone 3G II Apple is not Nokia.
• iPhone 3.5G No decimals in consumer hardware names.
• iPhone 4G Four comes after three, to be sure. But in the cellphone industry 4G specifically refers to 4G LTE, the next major evolution in wireless speed and interoperability among mobile phone carriers. Apple’s carrier AT&T has said it would begin to upgrade its 3G network to HSPA+ this year and switch to 4G LTE by mid-2011. So the timing isn’t quite right for 4G.
• iPhone Pro Assumes minor hardware upgrades to existing iPhone at same/lower price and introduction of a higher-end model at a higher price (like MacBook vs. MacBook Pro). So if Apple is about to expand the “touch platform” horizontally (like the iPod product line), we can expect to see a new mobile “quadrant” segregated by functionality and price among products like iPhone mini, iPhone 3G, iPhone HD, iPhone Pro, iPod touch, iPod touch HD, iPhone Business, etc. Balance that against Apple’s practice of product line simplification though.
• iPhone V (Video) or iPhone M (Media) If Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi bears early fruit and the iPhone is turned into a multimedia powerhouse with faster CPU (ARM Cortex), multi-core GPU (Imagination PowerVR), parallel graphics processing (OpenCL), Wii-mote like 3D controls, better camera and video recording/conferencing, we can expect to see a long line of third party partners demonstrating the media prowess of the new iPhone at the WWDC. Apple knows that no other smartphone is even close to the iPhone as the mobile gaming platform, but it won’t be called iPhone G (Games) since the name can’t regress from 3G to G and association with “games” won’t help Apple battle RIM and Microsoft among business users.
• iPhone U (Universal) Apple’s decision to open up the 30-pin port to third party developers was a central part of the new iPhone OS 3.0 SDK. This makes the iPhone a ‘controller’ of a huge range of hardware in all kinds of industries from healthcare to entertainment to transportation. Indeed, the iPhone becomes the universal front-end ‘UI processor’ to the rest of the world, and the hub of a multi-billion dollar ecosystem in the making.
• iPhone X An opaque name, but nicely ties the iPhone via Snow Leopard (Apple’s upcoming OS, a mobile version of which will also power the touch platform) to the Mac OS X desktop world for the ultimate bi-directional halo effect. The next device in 2010 might then be called iPhone X2 and the one in 2011, iPhone 4G. How would the unwashed non-Mac users pronounce it, though, as “ton” or “eks”?
• iPhone <#noun> We don’t quite see Apple losing its mind with something like iPhone Storm/Instinct/Chocolate/Rumor/Propel but if there’s in fact a unifying value theme for the next device and a semi-abstract word can capture its soul and purpose, it is certainly a possibility.
• iPhone 09 Should Apple run out of naming ideas, there’s always the introduced-in-the-year standby. However, Apple does this with software (iLife 09, iWork 09) but not with hardware. Otherwise, what would it name the one capable of LTE, iPhone 4G 11?
• iPhone The ultimate Rorschach inkblot test. A maddening knot in the world of Cupertinology is Apple’s predilection to introduce a market defining product under one name and, over time, introduce several iterations without any name augmentation. That inevitably forces customers and tech support alike to make up names to identify Apple products such as “3G iPod fat nano with video,” “C2D 24-in iMac,” “MBP 15-in late 2008″ and so on. So there’s also a chance that Apple might decide not to add a qualifier to “iPhone” until the appropriate opportunity presents itself, like when 4G LTE is ready for deployment.
The name makes the product?
It would be easier to decipher what the next iPhone version will contain if we could get a glimpse of just the name of the device instead of spec lists and blurry pictures soon to inundate us. The name will tell all. We already know, however, what it won’t be called: “Apple MyPhone P3G-2 Millennium Live Edition 2009,” pre-hyped with a cheesy YouTube video.
Originally posted at: Counter Notions