Here’s what the ‘i’ in iPhone really stands for
iPhone. iPod. iPad. iOS. iWork. iTunes. iPhoto. The modern society is so inundated with Apple’s admittedly pretty neat “i” products and apps that it’s hard to avoid mentally associating a product with that particular letter before its name with the company — at least, as long as you make sure that your Christmas present is not a bootleg iMitation a well-meaning aunt bought from a shady dollar store.
It’s a pretty nice way to establish a product line, really, but there’s one thing that keeps bothering us. What is it that the “i” really means? Is it a way to make the products to seem personal, in an uppercase ‘I’ way? Is it shorthand for some neat buzzword, like ‘incredible’ or “innovative’? Or is it just a cool way for Steve Jobs to make sure Apple’s products are named in a similar fashion? After all, he had a thing for uniforms , to a point where he started wearing that turtleneck-dad jeans combo of his, and at one point even tried to make all Apple staff wear a company-themed nylon vest thing. Oh man, we really hope it’s that last one. Without further ado, here’s what the “i” in iPhone really stands for.
The ‘i’ in iPhone stands for lots of things, but mainly the internet
Ellen Gutoskey of Mental Floss has been wondering this very same thing, and according to her, it turns out that the “i” in iPhone (and all those other “i” products) stands for — drumroll — the internet. The letter is actually a holdover from the iMac line of computers, and in 1998, Mr. Jobs himself confirmed this during its launch event. “We are targeting this for the number-one use that consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the internet,” he said. However, he also revealed that the letter has no less than four other meanings, which are actually pretty close to those buzzwords we just brainstormed: ‘individual’, ‘instruct’, ‘inform’, and ‘inspire’.
Per Meghan Jones of Reader’s Digest , though, Jobs did also say that the “i” was a personal pronoun, and that it didn’t have an official meaning, so take from that what you will. Ultimately, however, the “i” seems to have remained in Apple’s product names because of a very simple reason: it works. Over time, it became a “brand identifier” that helped customers mentally associate the product with Apple , even when the products didn’t have internet access, like the original iPods.