iThings Considered

My iPinion

Jake Sargent - 2001.02.20

A few days ago, David Shultz published an article on Applelust, iSay: Enough with the iTitles - They are getting iSickening, where he discussed his disgust for titles with "i" names (iExample). I must say that I agree with most of his statements.

The iMac (internet Mac) was a revolutionary name when it first came out - powerful and meaningful, yet simple. It also made sense for the iBook to have an "i" in it, being the counterpart to the iMac. Then we got iMovie. Fair enough - it allows you to share your movies over the Internet. Then came iTunes, again, it makes sense (Internet tunes). The same goes for iCards, iReview, and iTools.

Every "i" in Apple product names meant something until Steve Jobs announced iDVD a few weeks back. Hmmmm, Internet DVD? No, I can't share my DVDs over the Internet, and no, I can't download DVDs from the Internet. What does the "i" in iDVD stand for? This was the first time Apple threw an "i" into a product name for branding purposes.

You're probably wondering: If I'm so against "i" names, why do I write a column called "iThings Considered?"

In my opinion, there are two different types of "i" names - those that have meaning, and those that don't. The "i" in "iThings Considered" stands for "Internet" (Internet Things Considered). It makes sense, is trendy (hopefully), and doesn't make David Shultz sick (my fingers are crossed).

Branding is something that every company does. When someone says iSomething, you immediately think of Apple - and Apple likes that. It is important to Apple's marketing strategy.

What other thoughts come to mind when you hear an iWord? Simplicity, communication, and as both David Shultz (Apple Lust) and Dan Knight (Low End Mac) seem to agree, consumer. The most probable reasoning behind iDVD being named what it is, is the fact that it is a consumer program. Apple knows that if they stick an "i" in from a software title, customers will know that the program is easy to use and targeted towards the average Mac user.

So where is an "i" OK to use, and where is it not?

As David Shultz pointed out, there are many different meanings for "i" in a name ("Internet," "consumer," or for branding purposes). I think that the line is drawn between where a user can immediately identify which of the meanings the "i" is supposed to stand for (if any), and when a user has to think about it.

An "i" title is humorous and clever when put in the right context. Match an "i" up with another word where it doesn't make sense, and things just get repetitive and boring. Sure, Apple should keep sticking "i's" in its product names, and Mac web sites should continue to put "i's" in article titles - where it has meaning. But if Mac web site publishers and users continue to stick "i's" where they don't belong, many people may begin to see it as unprofessional and untasteful.

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