failing like never before


The Pervasiveness of I

iclicker logo ipod logo iriver logo

In 1998, Apple Computers started selling a new version of their desktop computers, called the imac. The first imac had the CRT and all other components of the computer enclosed in a cool futuristic case, that came in various colors. I remember touring an Apple facility with my dad nine years ago (ASME offered their members tours of tech facilities) and hearing all the commercial hype about the new imac. They gave us some free toys and sat us in front of a projector to show us an imac commercial, which showed some imacs spinning across the screen, showing off their cool colors (because PCs were notorious for only coming in beige boxes back then) while an old Beetles song played in the background. Our guide also emphasized that the imac was simple to assemble and worked right out of the box, unlike a Windows PC. When I was a wee lad in grade school, I never could have guessed that the naming pattern for the imac would extend into just about all of Apple's products, and even into other companies.

It has now become quite popular amongst companies, to take a fairly common and "boring" word and affix a lowercase "i" to it, suddenly creating a brand new "cool" product name. Take for example, some of the newer (newer then the imac at least) apple products that have been released: iphone, ibook, ipod, iphoto, ilife, itunes, the list is quite extensive. A quick survey of my tiny dorm room uncovered an iclicker, ipod, and iriver h320. The ipod, I am sure, everyone is already quite familiar with, the iriver h320 is a mp3 player produced by Korean company iriver, and the iclicker is a device my professor uses in lecture (see here for details). And because I love lightbox effects, here are some pictures.

ipod front ipod classic, back iclicker front
iriver h320, front iriver h320, back

As you can see from the iriver and the iclicker, other companies have now begun to use the letter "i" in their product names. The use of the "i" prefix is growing increasingly aggravating to me. Think of any common noun that begins with the letter "i" and search for it on the internet, chances are that product exists. Here are some that I managed to find: imac, ibook, ipod, iphone, itunes, ilife, iphoto, iclicker, igrader, igadget, ichair, ispeaker, ishelf, ipen, idesk, itube, itooth, iface, ibox, iboy... Its an amazingly stupid but surprising successful marketing strategy. No doubt it will continue until consumers are so sick of the letter "i" until the mere sight of it cause them to retch, or until marketers run out of common nouns. The former seems far more likely, as the English language (in my opinion, using another language would ruin the "magic" of the letter) is quite extensive.

I couldn't guess at what Apple's original intentions in using the "i" prefix were, but to me, "i" represents the individual, the self. I am cool, I am important, and it is all about me.

Welcome to consumerism, I, I, I, me, me, me.

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