Steve Jobs reveals the first iPhone in January 2007, but it could so easilly have been a TelePod. Photo: AP
Branding experts have backed Apple's judgement in naming its iconic iPhone, after a former Apple advertising executive revealed the strange-sounding alternatives, which were nearly used instead.
In a speaking engagement at the University of Arizona's Department of Marketing, former Apple advertising executive Ken Segall said Apple considered a number of names for its industry-changing smartphone, before settling on the troublesome decision of naming it the iPhone
In a clip of the talk posted to video sharing website, YouTube, Mr Segall, recalls problems Apple subsequently had with fellow tech giant Cisco, which sought to prevent Apple's use of the name, saying it already called one of its own voice over IP phones the Linksys iPhone.
Mr Segal said he was in a group charged with coming up with different names for Apple's phone, with the serious contenders being Mobi, the TriPod, the TelePod and also the iPad name, which Apple went on to use for its tablets.
The rationale behind some of the alternate names is obvious, the TelePod combined the telephone function with the already-popular iPod music players and the TriPod was meant to highlight the three distinct functions of phone, music player and web browser.
Whether the phone would have been so wildly successful, or portrayed the same sense of cool, which it enjoyed upon release, had it used the other names is open for debate.
While it is humorous to judge the other potential names in hindsight, senior lecturer in advertising from the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Dr Bradley Wilson, said the initial branding of a product was "incredibly important" for a range of reasons.
These included the need to ensure the product was legally protected globally, and that a name did not suffer with any embarrassing or offensive translation problems in foreign languages.
"Better brand names are simple, yet communicate the primary benefit or usage of the device upfront, that way it doesn't need further explanation," Dr Wilson said.
"I think the name that they chose in the end, internalises the phone to being much more humanistic. The obvious connotation of iPhone is of it being a personalised device. This is a very important branding tool that they have used, in order to connect the user with what is in essence an inanimate object."
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