The 'i' Goes Silent: Why Apple Didn't Name Its Smartwatch 'iWatch'

Apple broke with tradition in the naming of its two latest products, Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

learn more about Chris Kocek

By Chris Kocek

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For months, Apple fans, pundits, and competitors have been speculating about what the new iWatch would look like. And wouldn't you know, everyone got it wrong.

Turns out it's not an iWatch; it's an Apple Watch. As a brand strategist, this was the most interesting thing about today's unveiling.

No decision at Apple is taken lightly and I'm sure there were hours of feverish debate around the naming of Apple's two newest products: Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

So, why did Apple break with tradition?

Theory No. 1: iFatigue

The "i" sub-brand naming convention has been around for almost 20 years and includes countless extensions, including: iMac, iLife (includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and iWeb), iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iCloud, iOS, iWork and iBooks.

In popular culture, the "i" craze has continued to chug along, from iHome (audio systems) to iPlay (babywear) to, most recently, iFetch (an interactive fetch toy for dogs).

Maybe the folks at Apple have seen one too many i-product spinoffs and perhaps this new naming convention – Apple Watch and Apple Play – is meant to subtly represent a new (post-Jobs) era at Apple HQ.

Related: The 3 Fundamentals of Wildly Successful Brands

Theory No. 2: Lawsuits

Apple is definitely no stranger to lawsuits (issuing them or receiving them) and the decision to call its latest products Apple Watch and Apple Pay might be because someone else got to those other, i-product names first.

For example, in 2006, Apple TV was originally called iTV, but then ITV – a television broadcasting company in the U.K., threatened to take legal action against Apple if it used that name. Thus, in 2007, iTV became Apple TV.

Related: What Emmy-Winner 'Breaking Bad' Teaches Us About Brand Management

It's also possible that Apple wanted to call its payment system iWallet instead of Apple Pay, but as it turns out there's already another company out there called iWallet – a biometric locking wallet that "protects your cash, credit cards, and personal information with cutting edge technology."

Ironically, it looks like Apple's own i-success has become its greatest challenge in expanding the known iUniverse (which, by the way, is a professional self-publishing service).

Theory No. 3: Search Engine Sabotage

If Apple had gone with iWatch, it probably wouldn't have had any problems with search engine suggestions, but then again, it's entirely possible that Google's search algorithm might have asked "Did you mean iSwatch?" when people went searching for their new, beloved iWatch.

Likewise, if Apple had gone with iWallet (if iWallet didn't already exist), it's possible that Google might have made suggestions like, "Did you mean Google Wallet?" Ha ha. Nice try Google!

Related: 7 Tips for Naming (or Re-Naming) Your Company

Either way, the name of the game has most definitely changed since Apple's first i-products came on the scene in the late 1990s. Back then, Google was just a glimmer in Yahoo's eye. Today, Google dominates the search engine landscape (along with so many other areas of our daily lives -- Google Maps, Google Images, Google Adwords, Google Driverless Cars) and as a result, Apple has to be very careful about how it names its newest products or else get caught in Google's search engine suggestion slush pile. It's probably safe to say that Google-Apple partnerships won't be happening any time soon.

We want to hear from you. Which theory do you agree with? Do have a theory of your own? If so, please share it in the comments section below. (iAppreciate it.)

Related: 5 Questions to Ask When Your Marketing Isn't Working

Chris Kocek

Founder and CEO of Gallant

Chris Kocek is the Founder and CEO of Gallant, an Austin, Texas-based strategy and design studio dedicated to building brands for a better world. Chris is a public speaker whose talks on creativity and innovation have been featured at strategic symposiums around the country as well as TEDx. He is the author of The Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning (Yellow Bird Press, 2013).

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid
Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take to Get There.
A Founder Who Bootstrapped Her Jewelry Business With Just $1,000 Now Sees 7-Figure Revenue Because She Knew Something About Her Customers Nobody Else Did
Everything You Need to Know About Franchise Law
Business News

A Mississippi News Anchor Is Under Fire for Quoting Snoop Dogg

WLBT's Barbara Bassett used the rapper's "fo shizzle" phrase during a live broadcast, causing the station to let her go.

Growing a Business

Scaling Made Easy: How to Scale Your Business like a Fortune 500 Company

Once you have the night-vision skills of Fortune 500 restaurants, scaling becomes effortless. Here are 3 ways to scale, hidden in plain sight.


Streaming TV Is the Future of Advertising — Without Breaking the Bank

Today's consumers expect personal, impactful ads. There's an advertising method that can get you there for half the price, making it the next frontier in digital advertising.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Growing a Business

How I Built a Sales Funnel That Generates Over $80 Million

Improve your sales funnels for more conversions with these marketing tactics.