The MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iPad, and iPod. All of these stand as universal names, signifying a singular products within a cohesive ecosystem. But the iPhone still has version numbers attached to it, and if the clue presented in the latest round of media invites is any inclination, the trend will continue.
Apple’s main problem is its inconsistency with numbering, with the company first getting themselves into the jam when releasing the iPhone 3G. As the second version of the iPhone, and having 3G capability, “3G” within the title made sense (there never was an iPhone 2). But then came the 3GS, with more branding and less weight associated with it. Then the iPhone 4 was released, offering more commitment to version numbers than capability. Because unlike how the “3G” or “3GS” signified 3G capability, “4” meant version four with its lack of built-in 4G/LTE antennas. And with the iPhone 4S still lacking 4G capability, you can see why it might be enticing for Apple to kick version numbers from the name. On top of all this, if the new phone is called the “iPhone 5,” it will be the sixth iPhone released, not the fifth.
So aside from all the confusion, what would entice Apple to keep version numbers within the name? After all, they did remove them this year from the iPad’s branding, and sites like Gizmodo claim the new iPhone will just be called the “iPhone.” However, they may have missed one thing, and for my purposes, I’ll call it “perceived inferiority.” What is it? Think of it this way: if I own an iPhone 4, but know that my friend owns an iPhone 4S, it doesn’t matter what the capability and features are, the branding alone suggests my phones inferiority. And because turnover rates for smartphones are higher than any other device, getting new customers to opt in and current ones to upgrade is important. As for Apple’s other products, it’s much harder to justify buying a new iPad every year and even harder to do it with a MacBook. Therefore, recognition as a universal brand has a larger impact over perceived inferiority for more expensive Apple products.
The company could still ditch version numbers however, using the “5″ depicted in the media invite as more hype than actual branding. Because Apple’s new iPhone will be the sixth version, not the fifth, just calling it the “iPhone” might be best. Because in an anal retentive world adhering to version numbers, what could you actually call it? You couldn’t title it the “iPhone 4G” to avoid even more confusion with the 4 and 4S, and you can’t name it the “iPhone 5” as Apple’s sixth iPhone. There’s also a chance that the 5 depicted in the media invites could mean “five rows,” in relation to the devices added height, as suggested by one of my colleagues. Regardless, today we’ll find out the answer for better or for worse. What do you think the iPhone should be called?