Most of Apple’s top-selling products begin with an ‘i’ and there are several reasons why this naming scheme began.
It all started in the late 90s when the internet exploded in popularity and became the number selling point of computers.
Apple planned to capitalise on this strength by creating a computer that will connect to the internet quicker and easier than its competition.
Steve Jobs wanted the machine to assume personality and friendliness in every way possible; from its inviting colourful design, user-friendly built-in handle and its convenience all in one design.
Job suggested the name MacMan but it wasn’t well-received by the company’s marketing team so they went to work on a different name hoping Job will like it better than the one he suggested.
The team settled on iMac, a name Job initially rejected but later warmed up to after seeing it printed on a prototype.
When pitching the iMac name, the marketing team said the lower case ‘i’ primarily stood for the internet since quickly connecting to the internet was the product’s main selling point.
But the letter also stood for ‘individual’ since Apple wanted customers to see their personality expressed by the computer’s unique design and ‘instruct’ to emphasize the product’s purpose as a learning tool for the classroom.
Also ‘inform’; to highlight how much kids could learn from simply sitting in front of a computer and finally ‘inspire’, to communicate how the iMac’s powerful operating system could inspire users to create digital projects like never before.
The iMac went on to become a huge success and many of its signature features became synonymous with the Apple brand. For example its colourful translucent show and the lower case ‘i’ in its name.
Apple leverage the iMac’s popularity when creating other products like the iBook which is marketed as an iMac to go and reinforced the lowercase ‘i’ as signature Apple branding in the minds of consumers.
This trend was carried through to software with the introduction of iMovie and when Apple created an MP3 Player, it was named iPod.
So in the beginning, the lowercase ‘i’ simply stood for internet but as the iMac became popular, it transformed into a brand association tool and if you’re wondering why products like the Apple Watch don’t use the ‘i’ prefix, that will be covered in a different article.