Ex-Apple adviser gives insight into iPhone naming system

Ken Segall, a creative director with a long association with Apple, talks about what he sees as being wrong with Apple's iPhone naming convention

Why does every new iPhone have a number in its name, but not the iPad, iPod, or any of Apple's desktops or laptops? It's a good question, so let's head over to ex-Apple adviser Ken Segall for his tuppence worth.

"iPhone is sold differently," explains Segall, who was involved in the famous 'Think different' ads. "Since two previous models are still available when a new model is launched, the number is needed to distinguish one from the other. Consider it a necessary evil." Segall also thinks Apple should drop the 'S' identifier, as seen on the iPhone 4S .

The 'S' has become known as the incremental upgrade, according to Segall, with Apple only knocking out a handset with a proper spec boost every other year. Segall claims the 'S' is an "awkward moniker" whether spoken or read, and the iPhone 4S will never be as simple as the iPhone 4. "More important," he writes, "tacking an S onto the existing model number sends a rather weak message. It says that this is our 'off-year' product, with only modest improvements."

Rather, Apple should number its next handset the iPhone 6, rather than 5S, then iPhone 7, then iPhone 8, etc. "I think it's safe to say that if you're looking for a new car, you're looking for a 2013 model -- not a 2012S. What's important is you get the latest and greatest."

He signs off: "I don't know what the 'S' is supposed to mean. But I'm pretty sure that 6 is better than 5."

Which is all well and good, but he overlooks the fact that a device with a large number next to it sounds like an old, tired product. Who's going to buy an iPhone 11? Film franchises have the same problem. Which is why a few years ago we started seeing titles like The Final Destination and Rocky Balboa.

What do you think of Apple's naming convention? Should it drop the 'S' moniker? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.

     

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