Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

What does the “i” stand for in Apple products?

Narada Desk | June 1, 2016 6:25 pm Print
Listen! The history of naming

The “i” started with the “iMac,” which was intended to be the first computer that made it “easy to get on the internet.” Just plug and play, slogans of the time depicted. When Steve Jobs introduced the word “iMac” for the first time, he said it came from “The marriage of the excitement of the internet and the Simplicity of the Macintosh.” I+Mac=iMac.

He goes on to say, “I means much more:”

  • Internet
  • Individual
  • Instruct
  • Inform
  • Inspire

If we take a look into the history of the naming,

It was early 1997 and Steven P. Jobs had just recently returned to Apple as Interim Chief Executive Officer (At first he was just there to help and publicly stated that he did not want the full-time job at the time).  Apple was about 6 months from full insolvency and company morale was at an all time low. There were warring factions and fiefdoms pitting any number of internal groups against each other, with each assigning blame for Apple’s slow demise.

Steve Jobs spent his first few months cutting irrelevant products, projects and partnerships to streamline the company to a spartan group of products.  This was a painful and rather stark change to what Apple had grown to. Dozens of work groups were reassigned.  Only a few were left alive

Steve felt that there were two very important products to focus on: The Mac Product Line and The PowerBook product line.  Both products lost their way and suffered from a lack of focus in the market.

Steve selected a project that was an extension of the very first Macintosh.  It was in a very infant stage and it would wind up barely resembling what Steve had envisioned.  The vision was a radical design, a departure from just about anything else in the market, a translucent, All-In-One stand alone computer with no internal access and no ability to use add in cards.  It adopted a new communication standard called Universal Serial Bus (USB).  It also created what was thought to be the biggest error of judgment, no 3.5 inch Floppy Drive.  Instead sitting in the center was the translucent door of the CD Rom drive.  At the time CD Roms were very expensive and not at all the standard for software distribution.

The driving genius that was most instrumental to the TBWA\Chiat\Day Think Different program was Ken Segall (  Ken had been working directly with Steve at Next and was carried over to Apple. Steve and Ken had a great working relationship with a great deal of understanding and mutual respect.  Steve had asked Ken and his team to help in the naming of the new product and challenged him to out do the Think Different success.  Ken and his team spent some time distilling the suggestions down to about 3 choices.

At first Steve rejected all the ideas and was leaning towards a name he reportedly came up with, according to Ken. Steve was leaning towards “MacMan” (…). Ken’s team was horrified and in the most respectful and professional way, they lobbied Steve to consider the choices they had come up with.  Ken already had a favorite and set about motivating Steve to reconsider.  Understand that no genius is an island and even Steve admits to missing the mark at times.

And the rest is history.