Apple Inc. Should Not Launch the iPhone 6

iPhone 5s. Source: Apple.

These days, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) launches new iPhone models in September. The supply chain leaks surrounding the purported duo of devices continues to escalate. Investors have already taken to calling the device the "iPhone 6." Here's the thing: Apple shouldn't launch an "iPhone 6."

An iPhone by any other name would be just as fast
To be clear, Apple absolutely should and will launch the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models that have been widely leaked. Rather, it should transition away from using numerical branding for its most popular (and financially significant) product. The "iPhone 6" moniker simply doesn't make sense. Apple is a company that values simplicity above all else, and it needs to simplify its product naming conventions.

This year's iPhone will be the eighth-generation model, so "iPhone 6" isn't quite accurate. That didn't stop Apple from using "iPhone 5" two years ago either, though.

Year

Generation

Name

2007

1st

iPhone

2008

2nd

iPhone 3G

2009

3rd

iPhone 3GS

2010

4th

iPhone 4

2011

5th

iPhone 4S

2012

6th

iPhone 5

2013

7th

iPhone 5s/iPhone 5c

2014

8th

???

The current state of iPhone branding is partially due to the tick-tock model that Apple adopted from Intel, and the "S" it appends every other year when Apple focuses on incremental internal improvements. Longtime Apple watchers may remember that when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 3GS in 2009, the "S" stood for "speed." Apple has stuck with this pattern for three tick-tock cycles, but it's quickly proving unsustainable in the long run. At this rate, in four years the 12th-generation iPhone would be called the "iPhone 8."

Instead, Apple should simplify its branding under the "iPhone Air" name that's also made the rounds in the rumor mill. The latest speculation is that only the 5.5-inch model will carry the "iPhone Air" name, while the 4.7-inch model will be called the iPhone 6. Moving away from numerical names is much more sustainable in the long run.

Apple has done it before
Apple seems to have acknowledged this with the iPad family, which has a rather inconsistent naming history.

Year

Generation

Name

2010

1st

iPad

2011

2nd

iPad 2

2012

3rd

The New iPad

2012

4th

iPad With Retina Display

2013

5th

iPad Air

2014

6th

???

The good news for the iPad is that Apple has mostly gotten away from relying on numerical branding, which is simpler for the consumer and a better long-term marketing strategy. Still, that hasn't stopped people from referring to the upcoming model as the "iPad Air 2."

Every other product in Apple's lineup eschews numerical branding, from the iPod Touch to all Macs; there is no "iMac 12" or "MacBook Pro 5." These product families merely use generations or years to reference their models, similar to the auto industry. This is actually quite an achievement in the realm of consumer electronics, where many companies still use needlessly complex model numbers such as Hewlett-Packard's HP ENVY 15z-j100 (not to be confused with the HP ENVY 15-k020us).

Apple should do what it does best: simplify.

What will Apple call its next game-changing device?
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee that its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are even claiming that its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts that 485 million of these devices will be sold per year. But one small company makes this gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and to see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 3:22 PM, nealdoughty wrote:

    I agree. iPhone Air for the thinner model and iPhone Pro for the big screen.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2014, at 7:33 AM, TMFAeassa wrote:

    Great article! Thanks for writing.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2014, at 12:38 PM, Trololololo wrote:

    And this qualifies as insightful analysis?

    Please.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2014, at 12:42 PM, ViewRoyal wrote:

    "Every other product in Apple's lineup eschews numerical branding, from the iPod Touch to all Macs; there is no "iMac 12" or "MacBook Pro 5.""

    Actually Evan, the naming is a lot more complex for Apple's Mac products!

    For example: The current 27" iMac is referred to as the "27" iMac late 2013" model. If you just said "iMac" it could be any iMac produced in the last 16 years.

    If Apple started with naming iMacs like iPhones, and they called the late "iMac 16" it would be a lot easier to identify and differentiate while keeping the model name simple.

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