Renaming Apple Products and Other Deck Chair Shuffles

3 minute read
| Editorial

Since Apple is busy re-arranging deck chairs rather than actually making a new product, the least they can do is fix their wacked-out product naming scheme. While Apple is tidying meaningless things like removing commas and the word “Store” from Apple store names, perhaps it should pay more attention to its product lines?

Apple Watch, iPhone SE, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro; it’s just a mess. Whatever happened to Steve Jobs’ simple desktop/portable vs consumer/professional grid? It’s time to bring it back. Ok, so let me fix it for you Apple.

First, let’s take a look at some naming trends. Apple has slowly been testing the waters of changing its product lines to use the symbol/word ‘[Product].’  It started with tv.  Then Watch.  The ‘i’ in things like iPhoto, i.e., now simply Photos, has slowly been deprecated. Part of the move may stem from all the trademark problems Apple’s had around the world.

Putting an “Apple” or “” in front of some other word is going to make its getting trademarks much easier as it clearly owns those marks world-wide. So one wonders, should/will Apple eject the ‘i’ in the iPhone and iMac?

OK, so first, Steve Jobs’s product grid clearly needs to be expanded.  Consumer/Pro splits still make sense—even if Apple is abandoning Pros (and vice versa as a result.) One can hope Apple will come to its senses and give Pros what they’ve been pining for.  But in addition to desktop/laptop categories of yore, we now have tablets and phones.

Proposed Apple Product Grid

Accordingly, behold my proposed new Apple product grid:

Proposed Apple Product Grid (2016) - Items in blue don't yet exist

Proposed Apple Product Grid (2016) – Items in blue don’t yet exist


Let’s start with phones.  Apple’s current lineup includes iPhone SE, iPhone, and iPhone Plus; a stupid, uninformative mess. We can clean this up with a simple template: Phone [ScreenSize] (ModelYear). Get rid of the ‘i’ since it’s tough to protect that mark globally, and replace it with the .

Currently, there are no Phone “Pro” models, but I’ll suggest a pro line that has double the memory, double the battery, double the thickness (if need be), and any extra features that can make use of the extra space (e.g., optical stabilization, double lenses, etc.) can be slotted in (e.g., the blue text).


iPad can follow the same format.  The “Air” moniker is nugatory.  Originally it served as some middle ground for Macs in the transition away from MacBook Pros to models without removable media (e.g., DVD drives). That transition is complete.

The “Air” nomenclature was picked up, seemingly haphazardly, for iPads.  It’s time to dump it.  If there are to be two iPad product lines, let’s follow the old Steve Jobs consumer/pro product schema.  The current iPad mini and Air models can make up the Pad consumer line, and the Pad Pro line can have pencil support, double the memory and other special features in the future.


The “Air” line needs to die; it serves no purpose.  There just needs to be a new 14” MacBook to take place of the 13” MacBook Air. And above that we can slot in MacBook Pro 13” and 15” models.


This is a bit more of a mess as we have two consumer machines: an all-in-one iMac, and the Mac mini (i.e., a headless machine). And we have just one (headless) pro machine, the Mac Pro.

So first, the new trashcan Mac Pro has failed many creatives.  It is a glorified Mac mini Pro at best, and needs to go the way of the Cube.  In its place, we need a real Mac Pro that offers professionals more expansion with at least some slots to upgrade video, solid state memory, and RAM. I’m calling it the Mac Pro (’16).

The Mac mini can continue to be consumer headless Mac. The “i” in the iMac can go, and it can just be the “Mac.” It’s the bread and butter Mac, and the 21” and 24” (with 4k display) consumer level Macs can have fewer upgradeable features, lower resolution displays, and 4 or less cores.

As for the 27” Mac (with 5k display), it has already become a somewhat Pro-level machine, so we might as well beef it up even more with upgradeable RAM, an upgradeable SSD slot. While we’re at it, offer Xeon level processors with 6 or more cores—making this a good option for pros that want an all-in-one. Believe it or not, others already have Xeon all-in-one offerings.

Get Back To Work

Now that Apple is done planting trees in its stores, fixing punctuation, and creating new titles for the same old jobs, perhaps they can get back to actually making and shipping some new products. Hopefully Apple’s recent housekeeping is the end of a transition that will bring more coherently named and more regularly released product offerings.

15 Comments Add a comment

  1. Old UNIX Guy

    While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the product names John has chosen, I couldn’t agree more with the overall sentiment of this article that Apple needs to quit wasting time on all these irrelevant things they’ve been doing and actually ship some products that aren’t a literal laughing stock from a tech specs perspective.

    Since I’m sure that Tim Cook reads The Mac Observer regularly (), let me speak directly to him … Mr. Cook, I am just one of many long time (I’ve been using Apple products longer than you have) Apple customers who better see some pretty amazing product launches this fall, especially on the ENTIRE Mac lineup, or YOU will have forced me to consider leaving the Apple ecosystem behind for products that I’m not embarrassed to use…

  2. geoduck

    Could not agree more, both with the article and OUG above. Apple is approaching the bad old Performa days with confusing lineups filled with systems that aren’t really competitive.

  3. BWilcox

    I agree with the article also. I don’t agree with the second paragraph of OUG’s post. Will you be joining the Windows 10 crowd or will you be using some variant of Linux.

    I’ll stick with OS X.

  4. Old UNIX Guy


    If I have to switch it will be to Linux, not Windows. I thought that was implicit in “products that I’m not embarrassed to use…” 😉

  5. mrmwebmax


    While I agree with much of the above, when it comes to renaming Apple hardware products, we need to keep in mind recently renamed operating systems; namely iOS (not renamed) and macOS (renamed from OS X). Keeping this in mind (and leaving out Apple Watch and Apple TV for the moment), I see a hierarchy of hardware products broken down into two major categories:

    — mobile (iOS)
    — desktop (macOS)

    Mobile (iOS) products keep the “i” in their name: We’ll still make calls (or rather do anything/everything else) on iPhones, and still use iPads as our mobile tablet computers. “iPhone” is way, way too entrenched a brand name to drop, and if iPad caused many an embarrassing comparison to feminine hygiene products on its release, do you really think Apple is going to release products called “Pad” and “Pad Pro”?? Plus, remember when Microsoft (remember them?) gave the NFL like a bazillion Surface tablets to use on the sidelines, and the announcers kept calling them iPads? That’s because “iPad” — like ‘iPhone” — is an entrenched brand name. Apple’s not dropping those names any time soon.

    So while the “i” once stood for Internet, it now represents Apple’s mobile OS (iOS) and mobile hardware (iPhone, iPad), which is fitting as Internet traffic is going more and more mobile, too.

    That leaves “Desktop” and yes, that means both computers that sit on a desk (currently called iMac, mac mini, and Mac Pro), and laptop computers (MacBook, MB Pro, MacBook Air). Of these, yes, ditch “Air” and just have MacBook (and Pro) for laptops. Ditch the “i” and have Macs (currently iMacs) for the all-in-ones, and then have Pros and minis as headless.

    So before even considering Consumer vs. Pro, I’d do a hardware breakdown as follows, with OS being the main differentiating factor:

    — Mobile (iOS)
    —- phone (iPhone)
    —- tablet (iPad)

    — Desktop (macOS)
    —- laptop (MacBook, MacBook Pro))
    —- all-in-one (Mac, formerly iMac)
    —- headless (Mac Pro, mac mini)

    “Desktop” works for both actual (sits-on-a-desk) computers and laptops because we’re all used to talking about “desktop-class processors” (meaning in a Mac and not an iPad/iPhone), and desktop-class OSs (currently OS X, Windows, etc. vs iOS/Android). So start with Mobile and Desktop and break it down from there.

    When SJ came back to save Apple, there was a far greater gap between consumer and pro hardware, so it made sense to use those as major differentators. Now, with consumer and pro hardware blurring (see today’s iMacs in particular), start with “mobile” and “desktop” as the major differentiators, as those line up with iOS and macOS, respectively.

  6. NorthSaanichBC

    “Since Apple is busy re-arranging deck chairs rather than actually making a new product”

    “re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic” is a euphemism for imminent doom.

    Does the author of this article REALLY believe that Apple is “doomed”???

    It’s hard to believe that any sane person could consider the largest, most profitable*, most successful company in the world to be “doomed”. Ridiculous!

    * In Apple’s recent “disappointing” quarter, the company brought in an impressive $10.5 billion in profits. That was MORE than the profits of Alphabet/Google ($4.2 billion), Amazon ($513 million), Facebook ($1.5 billion), and Microsoft ($3.8 billion) COMBINED!

  7. Old UNIX Guy


    While I would agree that the authors’ use of the phrase “deck chair shuffles” (the Titanic is not mentioned) is a poor choice of words for the reasons you enumerate, I also don’t see anything in the article that indicates to me that he thinks Apple is doomed.

    In addition, he does make it clear by the embedded link that he is referring to the news which broke over the weekend that Apple is changing the job titles of all it’s Retail not-Store employees.

    I don’t think Apple is doomed, either, but I do see an Executive Team that is pretty clearly focused on things that don’t matter one bit to me and who also are apparently not paying any attention to the things that do. Even if Apple updates the entire Mac line this fall, as I hope they do, that doesn’t change the fact that there is something wrong with people who have a 3 year old computer that was outdated when it was released still on sale for a base-price of $2,999…

  8. ibuck

    While I’m similarly frustrated with Apple’s lagging in hardware—as JM ably described—and software—like Siri (Here’s what I found on the web) and AI—I doubt Apple’s engineers are focused on i-names, dropping “Store,” inserting commas or changing store employee titles. I suspect Angela Ahrendts’ hand in some of these changes, and perhaps a modicum of influence on the product names.

    Some software improvements will arrive in a month or so, as will new phones. But I wonder: does Tim Cook believe in Steve Job’s mantra that “Real engineers ship [product]?

  9. d'monder

    It’s hard to believe that any sane person could consider the largest, most profitable*, most successful company in the world to be “doomed”. Ridiculous!

    You mean a large, profitable, successful company like Montgomery Ward, IBM, Bethlehem Steel, or General Motors?

    Apple already went from quantum leap in 1984 to disaster in 1996. Apple isn’t DOOMED, not yet, but some corrections are needed before the old rot starts spreading again.

  10. stanbh

    I don’t disagree with much of what has already been said by other commenters, but where the author (Mr. Khelt) simply states an opinion regarding the uselessness of the Macbook Air, without any justification, I take exception. For all I know, the opinion might be valid, but not without some rationale to help me understand. I don’t own an Air and I don’t know what the sales figures are, so my lack of knowledge doesn’t support the opinion, nor does it refute the opinion. Just be a good journalist and provide rationale or justification when you express opinions: it helps immensely.

  11. Jamie

    The sentiments expressed here seem to be unanimous from the actual user community. Things are beginning to look more and more like those of the ill-fated 90s days of yore, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why given Apple’s material assets. To me the iOS 10 unveil was tantamount to a Sculley move, and I am praying that is not all that they have up their sleeve. You have no idea just how much I do NOT want to move to another platform, but as plenty of others have noted, the disparities are beginning to just be silly.

  12. davidkreutz

    1) Yes, because people having to constantly hunt out the apple symbol to type Phone is a BRILLIANT plan as opposed to the established, hugely popular, and simple to type iPhone

    2) Also i’m sure that Apple has been sending its Engineers out to its various Apple Stores to plant trees and rename things, its not possible that the biggest company in the world could have completely separate groups responsible for these absolutely unrelated tasks…

  13. gGrant

    I’m sure auto-correct can fix the iPhone->Phone issue. If you look at the rest of the product line, that name is next. Apple talks about iPhone as if it’s one thing anyway, time to modernise the old girl. When the “artists” start shipping, we’ll listen to all the excuses in the world, Tim. Now, where’s my Mac, I want to write more comments…

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