Why is Apple dropping the “i” from products name in 2020?

In 1998, the iMac started one of the most iconic naming trends in Apple history. The lowercase “i” according to the creative director of Apple at the time originally stood for the internet but was also loosely implying other qualities such as Imagination inspiration and so on.

It was short easy to pronounce and definitely had a better bring to it than
Mac Man which is bizarrely what Steve Jobs was planning to call the computer and After it made its debut on the iMac the lowercase “i” became synonymous with Apple products including legendary devices like the iPod the iPhone and the iPad as well as services like iTunes and iCloud.

For a while, it seemed like “i” something was just going to be the name of almost every new Apple product going forward. But then in the early 2010s, Apple stopped using this naming scheme almost completely and they don’t seem to be the only one to doing this.

Microsoft and Google are going through a similar rebranding of their own as well, Meaning that this is probably more of an industry trend. so in this article, we shall be dividing deep into Apple’s perception of rebranding and all its consequences.

why exactly these rebrandings are happening now and what the strategy will be like going forward?

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Apple iTV
Trouble for the iDevice branding started with Apple’s first-ever TV box in 2007. Instead of being called the iTV which is what the public had expected. This device was named the Apple TV it’s clear that the abandoning of the “i” branding wasn’t entirely voluntary at the stage though as Steve Jobs repeatedly called the device the iTV during its launch event.
The name was simply taken by the British television channel ITV, so Apple didn’t have much of a choice but to find an alternative one starting in 2012 though, after the death of Steve Jobs, the abandoning of the “i” Branding became a part of Apple’s strategy rather than just an annoying necessity.

Apple started renaming existing parts one by one so iChat became messages, iPhoto became photos, and iTunes will soon be phased out in favor of Apple music.

Apple under Tim Cook
has not launched a single new product with the lowercase “i”. The company doesn’t seem ready to forcefully rebrand well-established and iconic product names like that of the iPhone the IPad or iCloud just yet.But they definitely grab the chance to retire a name whenever they can marking it a pretty clear long-term direction.

And you might be wondering why? Why is Apple dropping its iconic naming scheme?

The most obvious reason appears to be a legal one as Apple, of course, Doesn’t own the letter “i” because of that. It has to apply for a new trademark for each new “i” branded product which it might or might not win.
In addition, there are some legal clashes that seemed fairly legitimate like around the ITV trademark Which we’ve talked about before but also around the iPhone for example which belongs to Cisco which Apple have to settle a lawsuit with.

But since Apple had gotten larger. A lot of new players have entered the game holding trademarks that seem a lot more unorthodox. The iPhone trademark for the Chinese market with all caps mind you is owned by a Chinese leather goods maker. Despite Apple’s continuous lawsuits and the iPad trademark for the Chinese market again which Apple tried to acquire ahead of the product’s launch is claimed by another local company that actually got Apple to pay 60 million dollars as a settlement in order to avoid having their products banned altogether.

Probendi Apple products
Apple tried to get apparently is owned by two incredible companies that are definitely worth taking a closer look at, first is Probendi who’s the entire homepage is essentially dedicated to letting you know that they own the iWatch trademark in the EU and that they will definitely sue anyone for its misuse.

In case you were wondering what the company sees as its core business, Probendi does of course claim that they are a very serious business, not just a shell company that holds a Trademark and that iWatch happens to be an app where I think users can submit emergency photos and audio snippets.


It’s pretty unclear what these emergencies are supposed to be about or why anyone would submit them but the app itself is a thing of beauty. Two reviews on the Google Play Store both with one star and screenshots from the app that literally have some of the lowest resolution sample images possible and some very legitimate-looking lorem ipsum placeholder text. Definitely looks like a real app.

Another slightly more legitimate-looking trademark holder of the iWatch is OMG electronics who not only has a great name, But also at least put some effort into having something that looks like a SmartWatch it never got past the IndieGoGo stage of course.

In fact, a campaign failed pretty miserably And the watch that they demoed seems to run the standard media tech SmartWatch OS meaning that it is Probably off-the-shelf hardware that they were just planning to buy from China and rebrand as an iWatch. But at least they made a demo video for it which isn’t complete garbage, So one should appreciate that.

Either way, it’s pretty clear to see that Apple having a naming scheme that is predictable to pretty much everyone but isn’t predictably trademarkable by Apple Is just going to keep causing them trademark disputes all over the world. Either with companies that are legitimate or with ones that just want to extort a little bit of money out of them.

Apple rebranding products name
Now beyond just trademark disputes, There are of course other reasons to leave this branding scheme behind as well To start with the “i” stands for the Internet has become a little meaningless since by now pretty much everything is connected to the Internet anyway on top of that, the “i” just feels a little dated in my opinion and it also evokes a sort of gadget feel which I think Apple is trying to move away from.

Especially with the Apple Watch, I bet Apple wanted people to think of it primarily as a Luxury lifestyle product and not as a gadget with a processor and antennas and whatnot. And as Apple is moving further into luxury and lifestyle territories. I think it wants people to think less and less about gadgety stuff.

Meaning that the “i” just doesn’t convey the right message anymore the final reason, in my opinion, is that Apple wants to focus more and more on its master brand the Apple rather than putting the emphasis on their sub-brands. Putting the master brand into the names of their products gets it an extra bit of exposure and doing this is a pretty popular trend with other tech giants too.

Rebranding of other major brands–Microsoft, Android

Microsoft is slowly De-emphasizing sub-brands in exchange for its Microsoft master brand like rebranding Windows Azure Windows Defender and the Windows Store – Microsoft products and Google – is shifting focus to its Google master brand.
Windows rebranding
The Android Market, Android Pay, and many others have been Googleified and most of their hit new products. Their assistant their photo app and even their phone prominently carried the Google brand not so much the Android one.
I think all three of these companies are trying to achieve pretty much the same thing with this shift in branding. They’ve all recognize that their product portfolios are becoming larger more complex, and they’re also becoming cross-platform.

So Apple music comes to Android, for example, Microsoft Edge comes to iOS and Android for example and so on. And so these complex cross-platform portfolios, they need and sort of naming scheme. That makes sense across platforms and is also simple and descriptive and I think that’s what we’re getting.

So that’s the “why” in my opinion and if I have to make a prediction for the future?

I’ll say Apple will probably just keep doing what they’ve done for the last couple of years, which is that instead of doing one big Rebranding where they changed the names of everything just for the sake of getting rid of the “i”s. They’ll probably just faze products out and product names out one by one as they either leave the Portfolio or as they get a big new refresh.


That’s probably the best time to give them a new name. Anyway finding a good name for a product or a brand is such a weird little Science on its own and so much goes into it. I would really recommend you learn a little bit more about it even if you aren’t a branding professional.
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