Many seem confident that Apple will soon present two phones called iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus and an iPhone 8. Is that the best Apple can do?
Many people seem to know the name of these babies, even before the babies are born.
And before the parents have said anything — even whether there are three of them at all.
Apparently, it’s going to be.
The first two are supposed to be updates with some allegedly exciting extras, such as wireless charging and better cameras. The last one is said to be the radical redesign, with an OLED screen and without a bezel.
The received wisdom has it that Apple has followed such supposed numerical rules many times before. An odd year gets an S phone. A totally new phone gets the next number up.
I have numerous reasons to be skeptical.
Not least is my imagined first line of Tim Cook’s announcement: “We have some great new phones for you today! Some feel a bit old, but the last one’s really exciting!”
Would Apple really name its phones so that two feel like last year’s and the third is the only one you should be excited about? Wouldn’t the company prefer that each one be part of a new family, so that each can harbor its own level of excitement?
This year is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. The newest phone is said to actually be substantially different from the last. (At last.)
Why, then, would Apple think without substantial difference about what it should be called?
Many people skipped the last upgrade, as the iPhone 7 resembled iPhone 6 just a little too much, especially in terms of physical design.
Why not make them feel they’re getting a substantial novelty by calling all the newest phones iPhone 10s?
Certainly, that’s one of the possibilities that my colleague John Falconewhen he looked at the rumored choices.
But I have more reasons why the currently rumored names feel dull.
Why would you launch two phones with the iPhone 7 moniker, when Samsung, by the time Apple announces, will have already launched two phones called Galaxy S8?
Why not, at the very least, call your updated phones iPhone 8 and 8 Plus — or even iPhone 9 and 9 Plus — and make the newest phone the iPhone 10? Or why not just call them all iPhone 10s?
Yours is only a 7? Oh, dear.
At the crudest psychological level — and, as we’ve surely noticed in recent times, human psychology has some highly crude aspects — wouldn’t you rather have a 9 or a 10 than an 8?
If Apple calls its phones 8’s, just like Samsung’s, it’s almost a subliminal admission that each brand’s respective phones really aren’t too dissimilar. It’s like BMW releasing its 3-Series cars and then Audi releasing cars also called 3-Series.
And there I was thinking marketing was about differentiation.
Some fancy that the newest, top-of-the-line,phone will be called iPhone Pro. Just as the iPad now has an iPad Pro.
I’m anti-that. Apple wanted to position iPad Pro as a computer-alternative. The Pro part tries to convince you of that.
The mere thought of a phone that’s now primarily a business tool immediately takes some excitement away from what has always been a personal device. Business is not about excitement. I’m naive enough to be fond of excitement.
Then again, perhaps that’s precisely where Apple is aiming. It wants its phones to be more productivity machines and less objects of joy and delight.
Some smart money will therefore surely go on the first two phones being iPhone 10 and iPhone 10 Plus and the fanciest one iPhone 10 Pro.
This is all, though, theoretical entertainment. You could even argue that it has to be the iPhone 8 series because the number 8 is lucky in China.
But what if there aren’t three phones? What if there are only two? What if there are four? What if the fanciest phone won’t be available for six months.