I’m intrigued by the naming of the new iPad. It seemed, over the last few weeks, that most blogs expected the device to be called “iPad 3″ or “iPad HD”. They would certainly have been logical choices given that this is the 3rd iPad to be released, and it has a retina display that can display HD video at native resolution.

However, it seems that is not the case. At Apple’s announcement today, the device was either called “The new iPad” or “new iPad” or “iPad”, depending on who was talking. There was no mention of an “iPad 3″ or an ‘iPad HD”.

Most things at Apple, whether internal such as office design, or external such as product design, are very carefully considered. It’s safe to assume that Apple’s choice of naming the today’s events was very deliberate.

Few companies have consistent naming conventions for their products, and today’s rapid release cycles only exacerbates that problem. Apple has avoided this with their pc models: for example, Apple’s computers are called “MacBook Air” or “MacBook Pro”. There is no version number in the name. A new or updated MacBook Air is still just called “MacBook Air”. Same for the iPod. It can be difficult to distinguish betwen models when the only change is internal, but everything has a Model Number permanently etched somewhere.

With the iPhone, Apple has been strangely inconsistent in their product naming. Firstly there was “iPhone”. Then came “iPhone 3G”. That made some sense visiting included 3G radio, but it was a very un-Apple thing to do. The “iPhone 3G S” was also a strange decision, although because the physical design remained unchanged, only the processor speed increased, it did make some sense. The “iPhone 4″ and some logic as it was a completely new hardware design. And the “iPhones for 4S” followed a similar logic.

Apple followed a similar path with the iPad. Firstly there was “iPad”. Then came “iPad 2″, which was a completely new hardware design. Logical, but different to their computers and iPod’s.

The problem with Apple’s iPhone and iPad numbering is that it is somewhat inconsistent and also has a limited lifespan. What happens when we get to 10, or 20. Will there be an “iPhone 20″? Doing away with the numbering in the name makes sense, and follows the precedent set by Apple iPods and computers.

But, “new iPad” raises new issues. What happens in one year’s time when there is a new iPad released (in effect, the iPad 4). Will the “new iPad” suddenly become just “iPad”? That will become very confusing.
Maybe “new iPad” is just a short-term name to reflect the fact that it is a new iPad, and extract maximum advantage from that in terms of sales. If so, maybe the product will just be called iPad. That would be the most logical, and follows the model set by the iPod and computers.

So can we also expect the iPhone 5 just to be called “new iPhone” or “The new iPhone” and then when it goes on sale just become “iPhone”. We won’t know for some time, but that seems the most likely and most logical scenario to me.

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