By the way, why the iPhone is called the iPhone?

Now that the iPhone 13 has been announced, have you ever thought about what the letter “i” means in the iPhone? And where does it come from?

An iPod. A phone. A web browser. You understand ? These are not three separate devices. It is a single device. And we call it: iPhone. It was in 2007. Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, lastingly transforming the landscape of mobile telephony. Since then, the very first smartphone launched by Apple has given rise to a cascade of other models, at the rate of at least one per year.

Latest generation to date: iPhone 13. It was announced on September 14 by the Cupertino company at a conference that allowed it to refresh other of its products, including the iPad and Apple Watch . But it is the smartphone that has caught the attention, with its A15 Bionic chip and its Pro version. And if you’re wondering if this product is a big change from the iPhone 12, the answer is here.

The iPhone 13 Pro, here shown in 4 colors. // Source: YouTube / Apple

But while the product has changed a lot technically, the brand itself has remained the same. The changes are peripheral, by adding either a generation number (iPhone 7, iPhone 13, etc.), or by adding an indication of the type of variation (Plus, XS, Pro, Mini, etc.). Apple has of course no reason to change, as the brand is anchored in the landscape and identifiable by everyone.

It’s not too hard to guess why Apple chose to name its smartphone this way. Six years earlier, in 2001, the American company launched its first digital music player, the famous iPod, which was subsequently available in iPod mini, iPod nano, iPod shuffle and iPod touch. And going back a few more years, in 1998, Apple unveiled the iMac.

This homogeneity in the designation of products is not systematic, but we often cross it: the iPad for tablets, iMessage for instant messaging or iCloud for online backup. And iTunes! This obviously leads to a burning question: what is the meaning of this letter “i”? Is this a way of representing the individual doing the phone, the tablet, the cloud?

What does this letter “i” designate in the iPhone?

You have to go back to the iMac, which was the first Apple product to receive this name, to understand the meaning of this letter. As both The Independent and Mashable explain, the “i” was meant then to denote the Internet – remember, it was 1998 when the iMac was introduced and the ” network of networks »Is just starting to reach the general public.

Of course, the iMac could not ignore these ” new information superhighways “. The computer was able to connect to the Internet, with the right subscription and all the right hardware. But it turns out that the “i” had a variety of other meanings in the mind of the Cupertino company: it also meant individual, education, information and inspiration. This is what Apple was showing at the time.

If the general shape of the iPhone has remained fairly the same, external developments remain visible, such as the block dedicated to the camera, or the general dimensions of the device. // Source: YouTube / Apple

The ‘i’ also means other things to us “, Also declared on this subject Steve Jobs, in 1998.” We are a personal computer company, and although this product was born to work in a network, it is also a beautiful standalone product. We also use it for teaching. They want to acquire it. And it’s perfect for most of the things they do in education.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, the Internet was mentioned as one of the smartphone’s three great assets, along with the phone and music. Is this what the thinking heads wanted to refer to when they opted for this name? Or has that “i” just become part of Apple’s identity, like its famous apple logo? The question remains open.

Article originally published on June 13, 2021 and updated on September 17, 2021

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