It’s interesting that people are so wrapped up on what Apple is calling the new, third-generation iPad—“iPad,” with no number. Even though Steve Jobs is no longer around to launch Apple’s products with the ease, grace and simplicity he was known and loved for, each product is still a shining breakthrough. With the new iPad, it’s the dramatically improved display screen and data speed over cellular networks. So why all the fuss about the name—or lack thereof?
I have a two-part theory. First, Apple has reached that point where everything it does elicits great interest and attention. I’m convinced that if Apple switched the brand of window cleaner used to wash all the glass walls in its stores, we’d all be clamoring to figure out why.
Second, Apple recognizes that we’re already in the post-PC era. Once again it’s ahead of the curve. Apple understands that mobile computing is the “Gen NOW” standard; so why not name these devices with the same convention as the desktops—iMac, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, etc.?
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, released a statement that the company made the naming decision because it doesn’t “want to be predictable.” But I think it’s more a signal that Apple “gets it,” while keeping the simplicity that makes its products shine.
Like any other brand, Apple can sometimes veer off course in its naming, only to bring it back to what’s truly simple. For example, in 2007 it dropped “Computer” from its name. With the rollout of the iPad, sans any number, Apple is simplifying again.
In many ways, Apple is doing what the automotive industry has always done. Most cars are launched with a name, and the year of the car is a secondary piece of information. And it’s not just cars. Apple is following the same naming convention most other products go by globally. The company is following what works—as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I think “iPad” is the perfect name for the new iPad. It puts the focus back on the established iconic product name—and even more importantly on the magic of the product itself. But regardless of what I think about this new name (or lack thereof), my bigger takeaway from the recent news is that simplicity (or re-simplifying) in naming can spur as much attention as boldness or audacity. Who knew?