What does “i” stand for in iPhone, iPad and other Apple products

What does i stand for in iPhone iPad and other apple products?

Short answer:
“i” stands for “internet” in Apple products.

Long answer:
Apple, renowned for its attention to details, has always impressed its customers not just with easy to use products but also easy to remember names. It would be interesting to find that even the most trivial aspects of product design & marketing are given great attention and are based on logic.

In an earlier article we found out what “S” stands for in iPhone 3GS, 4S & 5S, along with a host of interesting facts related to shelf life, pricing etc:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/what-does-s-stand-for-in-iphone-3gs-4s-5s/

One commonality among all of the products by Apple is the “i” prefix which has become synonymous with the company and has become a subject of ridicule for many who come up with jokes & creative fictitious Apple products bearing the i prefix.

ihand

ipaid

Is the “i” prefix just some random naming convention by Apple or does it have some significance and story behind it? To find out, lets rewind back by 2 decades. During the mid 1990s, internet had taken the computer industry by storm and the geeks who realized its potential had grabbed it with both hands to become overnight millionaires. Even veterans like Bill Gates did not want to be left behind had hopped into the internet bandwagon. The interesting story of how Bill Gates indirectly helped in creating Mozilla Firefox can be found here:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/the-story-of-mozilla-firefox/

By 1998, internet had begun to pervade into consumer segment as well. Non-geeky computer users like creative artists, businessmen & students wanted to use internet for purposes like creativity, productivity & education but the process of setting up and connecting to the internet was usually complicated. With the return of Steve Jobs to Apple in 1997, one of the first and major revamp he did was to cut down the product portfolio and introduce a simple, consumer friendly computer. The result was “iMac” whose USP was not just its mesmerizing looks but also its ease of connecting to the internet and it was the first product by Apple bearing the “i” suffix

imac_ad

TV ad of iMac:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS1dNp_zsKw

During the 1998 iMac launch event keynote, Steve Jobs spent more than a minute explaining that the “i” in iMac primarily stood for “internet” and also several other aspects of computing like “individual”, “instruct”, “inform” & “inspire”.

imac_i

Here is the link to the 1-min clip from 1998 keynote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyv073HPzo0

An year later, Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s colorful laptop whose USP was easy internet connectivity (using WiFi) and hence named it iBook where i stood for internet.
ibook

The “i” prefix had struck a chord with the masses and also had left a deep imprint on the Apple team led by Steve Jobs who was so much obsessed with the “i’ prefix that after 2 years, when he stepped up from being an “interim CEO” to the full time CEO, he gave himself the title “iCEO” so that it could constantly remind him of the importance of internet.

iCEO

Link to the clip extract from 2000 keynote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSWzWV4nvOs

2001So much was the obsession with the “i” prefix that even devices which would not be able to connect to the internet were given the “i” prefix name. For example, during the development of a music player in 2001, Steve Jobs explained to the engineering & marketing teams that although the upcoming product would be a stand-alone device, he referred to the iMac as a digital hub to which a host of gadgets including this music player could be docked for syncing (loading songs).

One of the team members who was inspired by the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” correlated the iMac to the main spaceship and the music device to be a pod which would dock itself into the spaceship and hence proposed that the music player could be named “Pod”.

Here is the scene from the movie which had inspired the team member to propose the “Pod” name:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W5Am-a_xWw

This “Pod” name was accepted by Steve Jobs and his obsession with the “i” prefix ensured that it was finally named “iPod” so that its naming was in coherence with other existing products like iMac, iBook etc.

ipod_ad

This way, the ball for the “i” prefix was set rolling and subsequent Apple products were introduced with same naming convention leading to iTunes, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and even software like iOS, iMovie, iPhoto, iBooks, iCloud and more.

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