Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple’s Naming Conventions

James Creixems:

[One] of the things that has really suffered from Steve Jobs’ absence is Apple’s naming conventions. Over the last 5 years, as product choice has grown, Apple’s product names have slowly turned into a mess that’s hard to understand and follow. […]

However these patterns are not consistent nor they are standard across the multiple product lines. However, we can see concepts behind these patterns: they’re used to describe sizes, generations and target market.

Apple’s products have never been better, but their naming schemes haven’t been this wanting for a long time. It isn’t a post-Steve thing, I don’t think — remember the iPhone 3G and 3GS, or the iPod that lacked a suffix for the better part of a decade? Or, heck, the MacBook Pro brand, which has always sounded like accounting software.

Lately, however, the product names haven’t been bad so much as they’ve been confusing. This is exacerbated by a large and ungainly lineup — the iPad range, for instance, currently consists of the iPad Mini 2, the iPad Mini 4, the iPad Air 2, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That’s five models of iPad, two pairs of which look almost identical.

This is nowhere near as unfathomable as it was during the mid-ninties, with non-descriptive product names — choose between a Performa, a Quadra, a Ferma, and a Centris, and I made one of those up — and numerical extensions that referenced the processor’s clock speed. At least you have a pretty good idea of what the difference might be between a Plus-model iPhone and a non-Plus model. But I wish for a clearer naming scheme still. Their existing scheme is borne from a set of two or three model lines, and it has not scaled well. I don’t necessarily like what Creixems has come up with, but there must be a more straightforward way of differentiating between different products within a line. Having dozens of choices of Apple Watch straps is a good kind of choice for consumers, but having too many similar-seeming products is confusing.