We have seen it for years. iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad – the ubiquitous “i” prefix has marked most Apple products since the release of the iMac in 1998. But why? What does that mean?
The internet has been making waves recently by recalling exactly what this “i” from Apple means. At an Apple event in 1998, Steve Jobs introduced the iMac, explaining the link between “i” and “Mac.”
“IMac comes from the marriage of the excitement of the Internet with Macintosh simplicity,” he said.
In 1998, iMac’s “i” meant the Internet.
Besides the Internet, the Apple prefix also meant individual, educate, inform and inspire.
Since then, the “i” has exceeded its Internet-centric meaning; Apple probably did not have the Internet in mind when it named the original iPod.
When the iPhone was announced in 2007, one of its three key ingredients was Internet communication, which brought the “i” back to its original Internet meaning. (The other two fundamentals were music and phone calls.)
Since then, almost all devices have incorporated some form of Internet connectivity, and the “i” has lost its association with that specific meaning and has come to represent the Apple brand.
But as Apple continues to expand into other markets, including smartwatches and televisions, its famous prefix seems to be disappearing. Instead of iWatch and iTV, we have Apple Watch and Apple TV. Perhaps because we no longer need to know that our devices are connecting to the Internet.
Moreover, another thesis argues that the i that we see on the imac, the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, etc., is simply the initial of the one who made the design of the first iMac: Jonathan Ive. He’s also behind the design of all the products that came out, including those that Apple today markets.