iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S: Names which we, the tech enthused, can reel off with confidence. We know the differences, the similarities, and how each got its name. Apple’s iPad was going along the same lines, until the latest one was released. We all presumed that we would see an iPad 3 this year, it made sense: iPad, iPad 2 then iPad 3. We were wrong. Why? Phil Schiller stated that Apple wanted to “surprise” us. I have to say, surprise was the last emotion I felt: confusion for a split second was followed by a feeling of admiration for something that made complete sense.
Apple makes products for the masses. Apple sold 37 million iPhones last quarter, and I can guarantee that only a small percentage of those are techies. The majority of folk buying Apple iDevices are regular people. They don’t read up on specs, they don’t read tech blogs, they just want a cool device, that works. More importantly: they don’t know the names of the iPhones. You’d be amazed how many people call the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 3. Or the iPhone 4 a “4G”. Even the iPhone 4S will be getting named the iPhone 5 by a few. To us, the names are simple, to the masses, they’re confusing.
Other manufacturers, like Samsung and HTC have chosen the complete opposite branding methods, hoping that big impressive names would amaze the punters. Remember Samsung’s Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch? It’s ludicrous. Since then, HTC has opted for a simpler HTC One “[letter]“, Nokia is going back to numbers and LG released an Optimus series with a similar branding idea to HTC’s. Names need to be simple, because regular folk need to know what they’re asking for.
By calling the new iPad the “new iPad” in all marketing, TV ads etc, it ensures that customers can walk in to stores and ask a very simple question: “Do you have the new iPad?” No model numbers to remember, no confusing brand names. Simply: iPad. From the sales people’s point of view it makes deciphering what the customer wants incredibly simple. I remember working for T-moile in the past and spending the first part of any interaction with any customer just trying to figure out exactly what they were asking. The general public is not au fait with all the tech jargon that we use day-to-day. Apple has removed all confusion.
Secondly, it fits in with all the other Apple products (bar the iPhone – currently). There’s no iMac 9, MacBook Pro 3, or iPod touch 4. It’s simply a product name, and a generation. To the masses, this is the way forward. Think how many different versions of the iMac have evolved since the original one back when Steve Jobs came back to Apple. None of them look alike, and yet, consumers haven’t been confused about the lack of a new name. They can ask for the “new” one. I’d be delighted if the next iPhone is named the iPhone (6th generation). In the ads it will be “the new iPhone.” Simple.
Looking at shipping and order information for the iPad pre-orders confirms that Apple is simply calling the tablet the iPad (3rd gen), like it does with all its products. But, what do you think about it? Would you prefer Cupertino to keep to an iPhone-style naming system, or is simpler better? After all, they say that less is more.