Oh yeah, iForgot!


You know what's amusing - besides this Dilbert comic - is the fact that I had completely forgotten what the starting i in Apple product names is supposed to stand for. Remember when the original iMac came out? It was launched during the middle of the first Internet boom, when everything was about being on the Information Superhighway...so the i ostensibly stood for "Internet". I had totally forgotten that little nugget.

I remember that it didn't make much sense to me, as the iMac didn't seem any more suited to going on the Internet than any other PC at the time. It seemed like a name based on a fad... along with e-somethings and dot-coms. Eventually Apple started doing those commercials with the easy online setup stuff ("There's no step three!"), but I'm almost positive that was an afterthought. The trendy name came first, I bet. Then the i got extended to represent consumer level products vs. the Power stuff... like the iBook. But even then you could make the argument that was a device that could get you on the Internet as well.

Then the iPod came, which didn't have anything to do with the Internet at first other than the fact that you could share your MP3s on Napster still (iTunes came out later). It had more to do with the fact that your i-Pod was an extension of your i-Mac. Same goes much later with iLife and iWork... So over time, the i has just sort of blended into their products, not meaning much besides being aimed at a general consumer.

Then came the iPhone, which to me was just more along these lines: iPod + Phone = iPhone... And even though Steve Jobs pointed out that it was "three devices in one", I hadn't really gotten the idea into my mind. I mean, hey, if it's a modern mobile phone, then it's on the net (duh) the thing that made the iPhone special to me was that it was like a video iPod too. But, as Scott Adams so helpfully pointed out, the iPhone is actually just as much a stand-alone Internet access device as much as it's a mobile phone and an iPod.

How's that for symmetry? Returning the i-based products back to their roots, just in time for the second Internet bubble.

Very interesting... Mostly because I think I finally understand the internal thinking about insisting on the name iPhone. They've dropped the iBook, the iPod has become a unique word unto itself (what's a Pod without the i?), and the iMac is just one of several model computers now. I had wondered why they didn't call the iPhone something with less legal baggage, like the "Apple Phone" or the "MacPhone" (like the MacBook, since it's based on the same OS). But somewhere, deep within Cupertino, there's probably a Keynote slide with the i bolded and quoted, saying "i is for Internet" and thus the name stayed, despite the fact that i prefix is getting a little long in the tooth.

Who knew a Dilbert cartoon attempting to be trendy would ignite such intense analysis, huh? :-)


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