May 28, 2024 400

The End of ‘iPhone’


Ken Segall is the reason so many Apple products start with “i.”

Last week's launch of more powerful iPads shows that, for now—and for this line of products at least—Apple is sticking with its long-in-the-tooth “i” prefix. But how much time remains for this dotted relic of the Steve Jobs era, a lower-case vestigial tail with little modern relevance? Not much time at all, according to brand experts, and also Ken Segall: the creative who, 26 years ago, named the first i-prefixed Apple product.

Segall persuaded Jobs in 1998 to use “iMac” instead of the internally-developed name MacMan. The iMac—a ready-out-of-the-box gateway to the internet—birthed a long line of Apple “i” products, from the defunct iBook to the still-current iCloud. Segall, who worked on Apple's advertising account for 12 years, remains proud of his association with the "i" prefix, although he now believes it's time for Apple to move on.

Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, a partner at branding agency Forge Coop, agrees that the "i" prefix is dated and no longer necessary in today's world where connectivity is ubiquitous. He believes that Apple’s brand is strong enough to maintain its market dominance without the "i" prefix. Anton Perreau, from the communications agency Battenhall, predicts that Apple won't drop the prefix until a future iteration of its flagship product is significantly redesigned.