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Former Apple ad man says iPhones should drop the 'S' naming

updated 03:32 pm EDT, Sat April 6, 2013

Segall says iPhone 'S' convention sends weak message

Apple should drop the "S" from the names of its off-year iPhone models, instead going with a new number for each model. This according to Ken Segall, a former Apple ad consultant who is credited with putting the "i" in "iMac" and developing Apple's Think Different campaign. Segall says that Apple's habit of attaching an "S" to the name of every other iPhone model weakens the smartphone's brand and introduces unnecessary complexity.

"Tacking an S onto the existing model number sends a rather weak message," Segall writes on his personal blog. "It says that this is our 'off-year' product, with only modest improvements."

Segall also believes that Apple has introduced some degree of confusion in its naming processes. The third-generation iPad was introduced simply as the "new iPad," and it appeared that that would be Apple's new convention in naming iOS devices. The company never adopted the practice for the iPhone, though, and Apple appears to have dropped the practice with the fourth-generation iPad.

Segall writes that Apple should simply abandon the "S" moniker, giving each new iPhone a new number.

"If it's worthy of being a new model," he writes, "it's worthy of having its own number."

Segall served as an Apple consultant in some capacity for more than a decade. He began as a creative director at Apple's longtime ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, later moving on to consult directly with Apple and work with Steve Jobs' creative team.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. peeti

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-06-13

    Are you seriously kidding me?

    If this was 4/1 I would take this article as a joke. An analyst suggests dropping the S to clarify the branding and decrease confusion? Let's see.. ipad, ipad 2, the new ipad, erm, the new ipad improved... macbook, macbook pro, macbook air - each with dozens of different variants.

    Apple please, PLEASE for the love of all that is holy, and for the sanity of the people who support you and your products, please get with a proper naming protocol. There is nothing wrong with Macbook 1, 2, 3 etc. In fact we would all welcome it. Having to research solutions using things like "macbook air, late 2012" is ridiculous. It's not Apple's standard and thus not guaranteed to yield results.

    Please get with the program, show the world a quality, Apple-like naming scheme.

  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-07-07

    Just give them a unique name!

    I don't care what they actually call it, give the product a unique name that makes it easier to identify. Heck, call it by the year. It's a 2012 MacBook Pro. Or a 2013 iPad mini. That's kind of how it's handled internally, but on the products like the iPad, between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3 (names Apple never used, btw) unless you know what to look for on the box, it's hard to tell which is which. They both say 'iPad'. At least with the phones, each has a clearly unique name.

  1. gatesbuster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-12-09

    S does not send a weak message

    I totally disagree with this consultant. It is actually honest from Apple that basically the difference between S and no S that basically announce that the form factor does not change but that the "performances" do.

  1. davidlfoster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-06-05

    The "New" iPad

    was an incredible branding debacle. Should I want to sell it a year later, should I list it as "the new iPad"? This is extraordinarily confusing as now it is an old "new iPad. "

    The naming of MBP's by the month and year they were released is lame too. Apple needs a fresh new approach. They need to err... think different.

  1. Orbifold

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-05-10

    "S" for expectations

    There would have been outrage if the 4S was called a 5 because people expected every new feature they could think of. 4S correctly conveyed it would be an updated 4 not an all new 5.

  1. shifuimam

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 08-15-06

    The iPad naming convention is worse than anything else Apple has come up with.

    I mean, seriously? "The New iPad"? What's going to happen with the next generation?

    "Hey guys, I got the new iPad!"
    "You mean last generation's iPad? Lame."
    "No, the NEW new iPad!"
    "Oh, THAT iPad! Awesome"

    Rinse and repeat.

  1. CharlesS

    Posting Junkie

    Joined: 12-05-00

    Originally Posted by shifuimamView Post

    The iPad naming convention is worse than anything else Apple has come up with.


    I agree. Apple should switch to their old-school naming system. They could have the iPad Performa 475, 476, and 477, all of which would differ slightly in the amount of memory and storage they offered, and market them at consumers. Then, they can make an iPad Quadra 605 model that's essentially the same machine as the iPad Performa 47x, but marketed at business users. Then, there could be the iPad LC 475, which would be an iPad Quadra 605 with a differently styled case, aimed at the educational market.

    :P

  1. Peter Bonte

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-27-01

    iPhone 10

    In a few years the iPhone 20, its dumb.

    CharlesS i hear you man, Mac naming used to be a big mess. I like the current naming system, a model with production date is good enough for me, i only need it for technical support and when i buy a product i only want the newest model, the new iPad, the new iMac etc.

  1. exca1ibur

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-06-00

    drop the 'i'

    I'd be more happy if they dropped the 'i' and came up with unique names for new products. Its more than run its course and need to be retired, taken out back, shot, set on fire then buried.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Originally Posted by shifuimamView Post

    The iPad naming convention is worse than anything else Apple has come up with.

    I mean, seriously? "The New iPad"? What's going to happen with the next generation?

    "Hey guys, I got the new iPad!"
    "You mean last generation's iPad? Lame."
    "No, the NEW new iPad!"
    "Oh, THAT iPad! Awesome"

    Rinse and repeat.



    If this is an actual conversation anyone you know has actually had, I'd have to say that it is your friends who are the lame ones. Not to mention superficial.

    That said, I think Apple has recognized that the third-gen iPad's naming convention was a mistake, but the overall idea is more in line with Apple's other naming convention: it's just the iPad (year), just like the Mac mini (year) or MBP (year).

    What we don't want is the way every other computer maker does it. The XPS-31F or some nonsense like that.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Originally Posted by OrbifoldView Post

    There would have been outrage if the 4S was called a 5 because people expected every new feature they could think of. 4S correctly conveyed it would be an updated 4 not an all new 5.



    I thoroughly agree. Ad men are not the people who should be listened to. They should get direction from the company and execute that vision (that's their strength). Never confuse "ad men" with "creative thinkers."

    I think the lukewarm reception of the Samsung S4 (which was heralded as a major new model when it is in fact a polishing of the S III and nothing more than that) tells the tale. You can pick on Apple for their inconsistent iPad naming if you want, but Samsung is so governed by marketing that they couldn't even call their new phone the Galaxy S IV (which follows the Roman numerals used up to this point), they wanted to dumb it down for their customers (nuff said).

    The iPhone 3GS and 4S were exactly what they promised -- substantive improvements over the predecessors, but in the same basic form factor. Customers knew what to expect. The iPhone 5 was a overhaul of the design. I fully expect the next phone to be an iPhone 5S, and I expect it to be an improved iPhone 5. That's called "setting realistic expectations," Mr. Segall, not "hype that invariably disappoints when revealed."

    I think I'm starting to see WHY he's a "former" Apple ad man.

  1. Bicycle

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-11-11

    Marketing bullshit

    Yeah, right, Steve Jobs used to call me every day for advice.
    When will journalists stop referring to would-be marketing heroes. There are some smart marketing people around, but I don't think that Apple, nor Microsoft, nor Google, nor Facebook, or any of those brands, need the average marketing joker. The 4, 4S, 5, 5S rythm seems very much all right and TRUE to me. I don't need to be fooled by marketing ideas.

  1. Bicycle

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-11-11

    ...

    ... Apple is good enough to fool me as it is ;)

  1. P

    Moderator

    Joined: 04-07-00

    At some point they should switch to just using the model year, at least for iPhones.

  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-31-07

    iPhone naming is best so far

    The iPhone naming scheme to this point is the easiest to understand. 4S is really a 4.5 but 4S is much nicer sounding. It hasn't been overly cluttered like back in 1995 when there were 30 different models of Macs, some with only subtle differences. With all the Macs, it's really hard to communicate with other users what exactly they have when we go years with no more than a name and size like 13" MacBookPro. I don't know really what I have in the generations. I vaguely remember when I bought it I think it was a new model. I have to go to MacTracker to understand. I'd suggest the Macs take on more of the iPhone naming conventions. Keep the exact same product titling so there's only a few basic products that are current, but give us some indication as to the generation and age in the title.

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    I never really understood what the "S" is/was for, but I also don't care.

    But the whole "X" in Mac OS X is so pointless. We really are on version 18 (what they call 10.8) of the operating system, and version 19 (10.9) will be the subsequent release. After that, the following major upgrade... 10.10? 11.0? How about version 20.

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