Why Did Apple Stop Using the Iconic ‘i’ in Its New Product Names?

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When you think of Apple, the first thing that might come to mind is the iPhone, or maybe the iPod, or even the iMac. You can immediately recognize many products are Apple products because of the lowercase “i.

But did you notice that Apple stopped using the “i” for most of its new devices?

Whether it’s the HomePod, Apple Watch, AirPods, or AirTags, there’s no “i” anymore. But there are a few important reasons behind this decision.

It’s not just simple rebranding, there are many other legal and even economic issues causing the change.

If you’ve ever wondered what happened, here’s why Apple stopped using the letter “i” for its new products.

The History Behind the “i”

There have been many different Apple products named “i”-something, but it all started back in 1998 when Apple first released the iMac.

Not only did the first iMac become a huge success and ended up saving Apple from basically disappearing, but it also started the “i” trend that Apple would use for its most successful products in later years.

Funny enough, Steve Jobs wanted to call the iMac “MacMan” until Ken Segall strongly suggested against it. And we all thank him for it.

But why the “i”? Well, Apple explained that the “i” mainly stood for “internet” since that was pretty new at the time, and that way, people would associate the internet and Macintosh together. Additionally, the “i” also stands for other things like “individual,” “inform,” and “inspire.”

Due to the massive success of the iMac, Apple decided to keep using the “i” in most of its products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, which all were hugely successful.

Why Did Apple Stop Using the “i”?

Although there isn’t an official answer from Apple, there are many apparent reasons why the company ditched the iconic letter “i.”

First, legal issues. Many legal issues. Take the Apple Watch, for example. As Apple explained, it couldn’t really name its smartwatch “iWatch” because three other companies in the U.S., Europe, and China already claimed that name. That meant Apple needed to either come up with a new name or risk a lawsuit and pay millions to use that name.

That’s the same thing that happened with the iPhone. The first “iPhone” was actually released by Cisco just a few days before Apple’s iPhone was announced. To use the iPhone name, Apple had to pay Cisco a large amount of money, which some suggest might have reached $50 million.

Similar legal issues arose with the iPad and the iTV, which we all know now as the Apple TV. Another possible reason is that many companies have profited from using the “i” in their products. Since Apple doesn’t own the letter “i”—even though the company tried to trademark it—other companies can use the “i” behind their products.

More casual users could see the “i” and think it’s related to Apple or the iPhone somehow. So, to avoid legal issues and create products that people knew were from Apple, it was better to add “Apple” instead. It’s just as easy to remember, and the company does have rights to that word.

Apple Ditched the “i” Wherever It Could

The strategy of leaving the “i” behind isn’t just for its most recent products. Apple also started to get rid of the iconic “i” in most of its apps as well. For instance, iChat is now Messages, and the Photos app replaced iPhoto.

Although Apple might have done this because the “i” just didn’t make sense or looked clunky. As we mentioned, the “i” mainly stands for internet, so it doesn’t really make sense to use it when these apps are purposed for things other than the internet.

That’s probably why Apple hasn’t changed the name iCloud because an internet cloud does make sense, right?

Apple Isn’t the Only One Changing Names

Other big tech companies, like Microsoft, and Google, have also changed the name of their popular apps. For example, Microsoft changed the Windows Store to Microsoft Store and Windows Defender to Microsoft Defender.

Likewise, Google switched from Android Market and Android Pay to Google Play and Google Pay, respectively. Just like Apple, this makes it easier to know which company owns the product, and you’re constantly being reminded of the name of the brand.

Will We Ever See a New “i” Product?

If you’re a fan of the “i” in Apple names, I’m sorry to disappoint you. But it seems like Apple isn’t going back to using it any time soon. Don’t worry; the iPhone or iPad aren’t going anywhere. It’d be absurd and unnecessary to change two of the most iconic product names in tech history. Instead, Apple will continue to use other words like “Apple” and “Air” in its new products.

Apple now uses Air at the beginning of a name to let us know it means wireless, like with AirPods, AirTags, and AirPlay. So kiss the “i” goodbye and expect the next big Apple product, whether it’s a car, a new pair of AR glasses, or anything else the company’s working on, to feature “Apple ” instead.

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