It’s a jungle out there.
Thanks to model proliferation, there now exist more smartphones than any mortal could possibly distinguish between.
Hell, I dug up 52 of them on the carriers’ sites in a matter of minutes.
The problem is, every model needs a name — something that will make it stand out and enhance the parent brand. That’s a tall order when you’re churning out models like a donut factory.
Everyone knows about Droid and iPhone. But what do you know about Snap, Imagio and Flipout? Uh huh. Just as I thought.
Apple had it easy (legal problems with Cisco aside). They make i-things, they make a phone, no-brainer — iPhone. Other companies aren’t so lucky. With every new phone, they reach deeper into their bag of naming tricks. Often with laughable results.
Here’s your executive overview:
These guys have such an array of names, you could write your own short story with them:
Behold the Moment when the Vibrant and important Exec discovered how to Fascinate, Captivate and Mesmerize his minions — despite the fact that he didn’t know Jack. Unfortunately, he had a tragic failing. He chose to Focus on Blackjack. It’s a shocking Saga, an Epic tale that is sure to Transform you, possibly even Propel you into the space-time Continuum itself.
Infuriatingly, HTC won’t let us play that game. But their names are not without entertainment value:
Hero. My phone? I think not.
Desire. Yes, the name makes me want one.
Snap. Next up: Crackle and Pop?
Surround. Please, I need my space.
Touch Cruise. Tom’s brother?
Dash. A bigger idea than Hyphen.
Shadow. Of its former self?
Aria. Makes me burst into song.
Eris. A thinly veiled Eros. Subliminal advertising!
Imagio. Uh, Italian-flavored imagination?
Pure. I can only imagine the word that follows.
Ozone. Is there a hole in it?
Tilt. Damn. Game over.
Evo. Okay, they got one. This works.
Droid Incredible. As distinct from Motorola’s Droid X. It’s a time-sharing thing.
These guys are major laggards. A scant six names for us to play with. They seemingly care more about making things easier for their customers than amusing people like me. Here’s what we have to work with:
Vortex. Just trying to suck us in.
Apex. Planet of the…?
Optimus. For the Transformer crowd.
Fathom. Try as I may, I can’t.
Ally. We could all use one.
Again, disappointment. Only six models. Don’t they understand my need for blog fodder?
Torch. Not bad, actually.
Style. If you have to say you have it, you don’t have it.
Curve. Depends on what side of it you’re on.
Storm. I actually like this one.
[Changed first paragraph to reflect correction in comments. Thanks, Neil.] In 2009, Motorola struck the deal with Lucasfilms Ltd. to license the name Droid — which gave them a great name to fight iPhone with. Never mind that five months later, HTC struck their own deal with Lucas to come out with the Droid Incredible. Whatever, the end result is that the name Droid isn’t exactly funneling its brand goodness to one specific company. However, Motorola does get extra points for shipping a Droid R2D2 model. Guess Lucasfilm tacks on an extra charge for that.
Despite the fact that were first in the Droid game, Motorola ultimately falls victim to the siren call of naming absurdity. They have the Devour, which sounds like it might hurt you. And the Citrus, which, tart and tangy as it may be, has no apparent connection to phones.
Someone in Motorola’s naming department has a flipping fetish, as we get the Backflip, Flipout and Flipside. Why no Flipper? They could have bought those rights cheap.
Then they have a few stragglers. There’s Cliq, which apparently didn’t. Charm, which may or may not be lucky. And the rebel of the group: Defy.
Not to be left out of the humiliation race, HP makes a bold entry with the iPaq Glisten. No comment required.
Bottom line: I empathize with the plight of these companies. It takes thought and talent to come up with a good name. Then again, this mess is of their own making. Does any phone maker really need to make 14 smartphones? Can anyone possibly tell them apart?
They always make the argument that they are delivering choice, but what they do not deliver is profit. Apple dwarfs them all in revenue by offering just a single brand of smartphone.
Might there be a lesson in there somewhere? Nah.