Here’s What The “i” In iPhone Stands For

The "i" connected with our Apple gadgets is so ubiquitous we don't give it a second thought anymore. It's just there. iPhone. iMac. iPad. But, have you ever stopped and wondered: Why did Apple start naming everything with an "i"? The naming pattern began in 1998, when Steve Jobs first released the iMac. Since then, nearly all new Apple products — up until the launch of the Apple TV and the Apple Watch — have been preceded by the lowercase letter. When Jobs first introduced the iMac, he explained the meaning behind the "i" at the computer's launch event (which we can now revisit on YouTube). In the beginning, it stood for internet. But it was so, so much more. The prefix also stood for individual, instruct, inform, and inspire. So much meaning in a single letter!
Photo: Courtesy of YouTube.
"An iMac comes from a marriage of the excitement of the internet with the simplicity of Macintosh," Jobs said in the announcement. Looking back now, we can't even imagine a computer that does not have the capability of connecting to the internet. But, when this one first launched, there were few that did. Apple continued to release innovative devices, and they all followed that naming scheme, making it iconic. While perhaps "individual" or "inspire" was the i-meaning for the earlier iPod, the "internet" meaning came back around when the iPhone was released in 2007. One of its main selling points, and key features, was the ability to offer fast internet in the palm of your hand. Almost everything Apple makes can connect to the internet now, so the consumer doesn't actually need a reminder, but it's still a major part of the brand. For example, when texting from iPhone to iPhone, you are iMessaging, and when you back things up remotely, you're saving your photos and data to the iCloud. Nowadays, Apple has begun ditching the "i" naming scheme (perhaps because of copyright issues, or maybe because it sounds so 2000s), but it still lives on in our hearts. Half the time I refer to my Apple Watch as my iWatch, anyways — it's just ingrained in the brand's i-dentity.

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