iPhone 5 or 6?

October 16, 2011

“iPhone” was an obvious choice for the name of Apple’s phone. Everybody and their brother guessed it. Obvious and perfect.

When the second iPhone was introduced and included 3G technology, iPhone 3G was another obvious choice for a name.

The next phone would be the third, but they already used a 3 in “iPhone 3G,” thus putting themselves in a predicament for the name. Since this phone didn’t have a different physical design, tacking a letter on the end was all Apple could seemingly do. “Speed.”

Then, iPhone 4 was announced and sported a new design. Truly, this is the fourth iPhone. However, I know consumers confuse it with “4G” every day.

iPhone 4S is the same design as iPhone 4. Calling it iPhone 5 would be a disappointment to the public (because when something doesn’t physically change, people don’t think it’s worthy of a name change). Technically, though, this is the fifth iPhone.

What’s the next iPhone to be called? Can’t be iPhone 5, can it? But iPhone 6 would sound weird after iPhone 4S, even if it would be the sixth iPhone.

When Apple announced the second iPad, they called it “iPad 2.” But why? Did the numbering scheme of iPhone inspire iPad?

Thing is, Apple doesn’t use numbers in their marketing names for other hardware products (at least not anymore, PowerMac G3). You don’t see a MacBook Air 3 or an iPod touch 4. The reason for Apple to number iPhone and iPad could be because they radically change from version to version, and consumers wanted to compare them in conversation. “iPad 2 has a camera.” “iPhone 4 has a Retina Display.”

The only other reason I can think of is that Apple sells multiple iPhone models at any one time. Consumers need a name differentiator. But they don’t sell iPad 1 alongside iPad 2, so I’m not sure about this reasoning.

After all, Apple doesn’t put the extra label on the back of the products. They simply say “iPhone” or “iPad.” Honestly, I think they need to lose the numbering scheme. They’re starting to resemble names like “Dell XPS” and “BMW X3 SAV.”