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The ‘i’ may disappear from Apple devices

The end of an era?

The ‘i’ may disappear from Apple devices  The end of an era?

Ken Segall, an advertiser who worked alongside Steve Jobs and chose the “i” prefix for Apple, says the company should be ready to abandon the choice that has made it recognisable worldwide.It was he who, in 1998, suggested to Jobs to name the computer iMac instead of MacMan, and it was he who convinced the founder to let the “i” be present in every new release, including iCloud. Initially, it simply indicated that the device was easily connected to the internet, but over time, “i” came to symbolize values such as individuality, information, and inspiration, a description that Jobs presented at the official launch of iMac in '98. In an interview with Wired, Segall declares that it is time for Apple to abandon the “i”:

«It is now meaningless. Sure, [Jobs] built [Apple] around it, but remember that the 'i' has always been a sub-brand. There may be marketing experts who say Apple would be crazy to abandon the prefix - it is still ahead of some of the biggest brands ever - but it cannot be protected, and for too long there have been companies with 'i' connected to the internet, and this is a problem for Apple, known for innovation.»

A future where iPhone and iPad have different names might not be too far off. In recent years, new products like the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Apple Vision Pro have been launched, all notably without the “i” in their names. Like any branding decision, abandoning the prefix is more about the company's marketing strategy than its creative identity: how you present yourself to the world suggests to the consumer where you position yourself in the market, whether anchored in the past or projected towards the future. Products that start with “i” all belong to the era when Jobs was still the CEO of the company, so in the public's mind they might appear somewhat dated, explains Anton Perreau, director of the communication agency Battenhall, to Wired - but he adds that it is unlikely that the iPhone will change its name. «They have spent so much time and money building the iPhone's brand equity, so the change will not happen until Apple introduces a product that could have an even stronger brand equity than the iPhone.»

Apple has entered the market aggressively, with subversive advertisements that have forever influenced the way brands like Jobs's startup (and any other brand) communicate. According to the saying “if it ain't broke, don't fix it,” the only direction Apple can take right now might be to stay the course, but if the company wants to continue asserting itself among consumers as the most cutting-edge choice, it must show it is still capable of innovating. At the moment, various sources report that it is seeking an agreement with ChatGPT to integrate the artificial intelligence platform into the next iOS, but the initiative might not be enough. According to the latest company results, sales are down, with smartphone demand down 10% in the first three months of 2024 and overall revenues down 4%. For the first time in the history of Steve Jobs's empire's rise, Apple will have to apply to its branding the same slogan that made the world fall in love with it in the '90s: “Think Different.”