The End of the “i” of iPhone?


While the iPhone may not be the best-selling smartphone of all time, you probably know at least one person who has it. This smartphone made a real splash when it first appeared in 2007, and it seems that its popularity is not going to diminish.

But have you ever wondered what the letter “i” in iPhone means?

Probably the first assumption is the word “internet”. Maybe because the smartphone gained its popularity thanks to its internet access. Or maybe you think “i” means the personal pronoun “I” in English since you can personalize your phone with apps and settings.

The small prefix “i” was in use long before the iPhone became a reality. The first Apple product to have this letter in its sacred name is the iMac, which was introduced on the market in 1998. At that time it was a miracle for computers to have access to the Internet, so an “i” in iMac indicates the Internet capability of the computer. But, when the first iMac computer was introduced, Steve Jobs stated at the presentation that the letter “i” stands for more than “internet”, also: “individual”, “instruct”, “inform”, “inspire”.

Steve Jobs stated at the presentation that the letter “i” stands for “internet, individual, instructor, inform, inspire”

It seems that the meaning of the letter is loaded with other meanings as Apple also wanted to use the prefix for products without Internet access. The “i” became sub-branding. A nod to the widely established “e”-prefix as in email, ecommerce, etc. etc.

Apple is famous for dramatic product updates. For example, removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 was such a dramatic move. As was dropping support for flash. In recent years, Apple started to drop the i-prefix from most of their products or services. This month alone they removed one of the most famous apps, iTunes, and rebranded it to Apple Music. Their latest updates are now called AppleWatch, AppleTV, AirPods, HomePod and so on.

By slowly removing the “i”, their recent products are named AppleWatch, AppleTV, AirPods, HomePod etc.

So, will the iPhone be rebranded to Apple Phone as well? It would strengthen the Apple brand further, and simplify the landscape of sub-brands that might otherwise gradually weaken the main brand.

Digital Marketer & Brand Identity Developer for Icecat based in North Macedonia.

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