Jan 10

Crimes against nomenclature: 2010 edition


Okay, Samsung — what's your excuse?

Product naming is a recurring theme in this blog, so I’m going to make this an official Observatory feature. With your help, I’d like to assemble a rogues gallery of delightfully bad product names so we can crown a winner at year’s end. Kindly send me your nominees as you discover them.

Kicking off the new year I present the Samsung Galaxy Spica i5700 phone. It’s hard not to admire a name you’re not sure how to pronounce. I would have thought “speek-a,” but I just saw a video calling it “spike-a.” Whatever, that’s the least of its offenses. We have two words, lots of syllables, a space theme, a concealed ethnic slur and a lovely assortment of numbers, all rolled into one.

Now don’t get cocky, Samsung. You’ve got the pole position. But I get the feeling this competition is going to heat up in the months ahead.

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  • Liebman

    You speak-a the truth, oh wise one. Looking forward to the competition.

  • Cory

    Remember that keynote back in 1997/1998 when jobs displayed on the screen all the products names that Apple was selling back then and he said “If I can’t wrap my head around this, how can we expect our customers to” … he went on to explain how he was going to simplify the Apple product (matrix) lines. (Looking for screen shot)

    Well… Let’s ask the CEO of Samsung, HP, or Dell if they can explain it… if they can’t then there is something wrong. I know what their first excuse will be… it’s that they produce more products then Apple.

    OT… about margins: If you ask Dell why they make so many products… well, you’ll end up with a few answers, the first being competition and choice. The second is that they need to get into the business of making more products that sell for higher margins to compensate for their low margin computer business. This all sounds familiar… I can’t help but remember when Commodore lowered the price of the Commodore 64 to compete with Texas Instruments (TI99/4A), Atari, Apple. Well Texas Instruments and Atari soon followed suit and all three companies where selling their products at a loss…. the only company not to lower their price was Apple, and today their the only one still selling computers (lesson learned – but not by Dell, HP, et al). It’s one thing to sell a gaming console at an initial loss knowing that you’ll make it up and more on software licensing sales… but when Dell and HP sell at a loss, their customers only return (if they do) looking for the same or better deal… it’s a cycle that they need to break… and it’s going to be hard.

  • “Well… Let’s ask the CEO of Samsung, HP, or Dell if they can explain it…”

    be careful what you wish for. having heard some of the explanations of why clients call their products what they do, it still hurts my brain …

    somewhere, there is a guide book explaining what every letter and number in exactly what sequence the name means, and man! does it shake your faith in common sense.

  • Cory

    Here is Steve Jobs talking about the Product Matrix as per my post above:


    Brilliant… not only does is keep things simple, but it keeps me buying – “A new MacBook Pro is out, I have to get the latest”… unlike my Dell which was replaced with a different product (number or otherwise) that I don’t associate with or even know about.

  • ken segall

    Thanks for that link. I had the good fortune to have been in that room, and it’s a presentation I’ve never forgotten. Incredible how brilliant one can look when spouting common sense. Any computer company could take similar action anytime they wish, save millions of dollars by simplifying, and make the choices infinitely easier for their customers. They just don’t. Too many people invested in the status quo; no leader strong enough to stand up and make the change.

  • sarumbear

    You asked for a bad name, you got one: Tivoli Audio iYiYi Stereo System for iPod


    But my favourite is Pentax *ist DL2 Digital SLR. Pronounce THAT one!


  • ken segall

    Wow, these are fantastic. Thank you. They’re both going right onto my list. I will soon create an official page for the competition. iYiYi is as unpronounceable a name as I’ve ever seen. I was pretty sure you mistyped the Pentax name, and was truly shocked when I got to their site and found that you had it exactly right. Amazing.

  • neilw

    Do crimes against capitalization count? If so I nominate the newly minted enTourage eDGe (http://www.entourageedge.com/).

  • ken segall

    Yes! Yes! Yes! In fact I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I had seen this a while back and for the life of me couldn’t remember where. This form of naming dementia is rare, but always delightful. I may have to create a separate category for it. Keep ’em coming.

  • Here’s a delightfully bad product name: ACIPHEX.
    Pronounced: Ass-F-X. Can you believe that?

  • ken segall


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