When Jeffries analyst Peter Misek opined earlier this week that Apple’s so-called “iTV” would in fact be called the “iPanel,” my first reaction was a chuckling “Not a chance.” It just sounded too technical, too unwieldy, too nondescript. In an effort to find a name better suited to Apple’s style, I spent an afternoon plodding through synonyms at Thesaurus.com.
Using basic search terms like “screen,” “display,” “monitor,” and “theater,” I came up with a long(ish) list of potential brand names. Naturally, some entries are better than others, some aren’t metaphorically appropriate, many are likely trademarked by other companies, and most are clearly not up Apple’s alley. Plus, you know, a few just sound plain dumb. Without further ado (top choices in bold):
- iBox — Not viable for the TV, but could be a factor.
- iBroadcast — Bad metaphor. Almost the opposite of what we’re expecting.
- iCast — Same as above.
- iCinema — Maybe. Makes sense, but might be too limited.
- iCom — No.
- iComm — Noo.
- iCon — A great pun, but not a chance.
- iConn — An even better pun, but even less of a chance.
- iConsole — If this were a dedicated gaming system, you bet!
- iControl — Appropriate but inappropriate.
- iDea — Bad idea.
- iDeck — Maybe if it was a music-centric device.
- iDimension — I hope it has 3D, but not at this price.
- iDiotbox — My vote.
- iDisplay — Very compelling. A top-fiver.
- iExam — Funny if it’s Retina, but stupid even so.
- iExhibit — Interesting metaphor, but not Apple’s style.
- iExpo — iDitto.
- iExpose — iDitto 2.
- iField — A bad-sounding name for a window to the world.
- iGaze — Fitting but creepy. Like iTrance.
- iGlance — Surely Apple wants us to do more than glance at this TV.
- iHDTV — If the spec wasn’t so potentially outdated, I’d say yes.
- iLayer — I don’t even know why I left this in here.
- iLCD — Maybe. Too technical?
- iLight — It’ll be bright, but iLight’s not right.
- iLook — Makes sense, but too vague.
- iMage — It’ll have a magical image, but not this name.
- iOLED — See iLCD. Also, Apple doesn’t use OLED technology right now.
- iPane — Very fitting. Rolls right off the tongue.
- iPano — Unless it’s something like this, no.
- iPanel — Highly likely. I believe that now.
- iPeek — The Peek was a laughable failure, and Apple’s not that cruel.
- iPic — m
- iPicture — e
- iPix — h.
- iPlayer — Sounds too much like a peripheral.
- iPresence — Only if you really believe Apple’s your omnipotent overlord.
- iReceiver — Apt in many ways, but neglects any mention of an actual screen.
- iRTV — “R” for Retina. Would be an Apple-only, trademarkable spec. Interesting.
- iScape — I really like this one.
- iScene — I only kind of like this one.
- iScope — But I don’t like this one.
- iScout — And I hate this one.
- iScreen — Why not?
- iSee — U-P. Keep that door closed.
- iShow — Sounds like a podcast. Amiright, AJ?
- iSpot — Sounds like the Jobs family dog.
- iSpy — With my little eye: Not a chance.
- iStage — All the world is one. Apple’s TV won’t be.
- iStare — Television makes zombies of us all, but Lets hope this name stays dead.
- iStation — Intriguing, but not too likely.
- iStory — Sounds like a Nintendo game.
- iSystem — The name’s got to be more screen-centric.
- iTele — Apple’s saving that for when they revolutionize travel.
- iTelevision — Great, but too many syllables.
- iTelly — 1776!
- iTheater — Why not?
- iTheatre — The British aren’t coming.
- iTube — Just to troll Google, I say yes!
- iTV — Probably too expensive. And not actually my favorite choice.
- iVid — I kid.
- iVideo — I kid, yo.
- iView — Not great, not horrible, not likely.
- iVision — Sounds more like a feature than a TV set.
- iVista — Bad mojo. Microsoft probably would allow it.
- iWall — If it were a projection system, maybe.
- iWatch — iPod nano’s got that covered.
- iWindow — Neat metaphor. Microsoft probably wouldn’t allow it.
- iWitness — News at Six. Breaking story: No happening!
- iWorld — It’s a TV, not an amusement park.
- iZone — Not very Apple-esque, but it does fit the goal.
Of course, Apple’s options aren’t limited to the expected “i” prefix, and Tim Cook’s marketing machine could just as easily use one of the following:
- Apple HDTV — Again, HDTV might be a fading spec.
- Apple iTV — This might mitigate part of the foreseeable trademark dispute, but it certainly wouldn’t prevent it. Might as well drop the “Apple.”
- Apple LCD — If it was just a monitor, sure.
- Apple LCD TV — Too many abbreviations. I like it, though.
- Apple LED TV — Again, too many abbreviations.
- Apple OLED — Only if Apple gets organic…
- Apple OLED TV — …and that’s not happening any time soon (at this size, anyways).
- Apple Retina TV — A great name.
- Apple RTV — Less likely than the above, but still good.
- Apple TV — Only if the current Apple TV is rebranded (iBox?)
- Apple UDTV — Ultra Definition TV. This is an existing future spec, and Retina’s probably easier to market and manufacture.
So, by my reasoning, Apple’s TV set will probably be called iCinema, iDisplay, iHDTV, iLCD, iPane, iPanel, iRTV, iScape, iScene, iScreen, iTheater, iTV, Apple iTV, Apple HDTV, Apple LCD TV, Apple Retina TV, Apple RTV, or Apple TV.
I wouldn’t think it’s worth Apple’s effort to rebrand its current Apple TV when other viable names exist. Of course, the company does already own the trademark, and the set-top Apple TV moniker could be confusing once Apple has a real TV on the market. I do, however, think Apple would sooner call the unit “Apple TV” than buy out the iTV name or pay years of legal fees.
Meanwhile, “Retina” has become a powerful marketing term, and — if the specs support it — it’s not out of the question for Apple to include said designation in the official name. Still, “iRTV” doesn’t really sound too good out loud, and “Apple RTV” is hardly better. If a Retina display is included and mentioned, I believe the set would more readily be called “Apple Retina TV.” Indeed, I think that’s a lot more likely than “iHDTV” or “Apple HDTV.”
Because specs don’t matter when using more general terms, Apple could future-proof its purported product by simply calling it “iLCD,” “Apple LCD TV,” or “Apple LED TV.” But these take too long to say, and they’re clunky to boot. Like I said before, they’ve got too many abbreviations. And remember, using these kinds of generic terms has never been Apple’s favorite course of action.
That leaves the real contenders: iCinema, iDisplay, iPane, iPanel, iScape, iScreen, iScene, or iTheater. However, “iScape” seems a bit too ethereal to be practical, and “iScene” — like “iCinema” or, to a lesser extent, “iTheater” — is probably too limited in scope for everything Apple wants to achieve. That said, “iTheater” is definitely my darkhorse pick.
Of the remaining four options, “iDisplay” sounds too much like one of Apple’s desktop monitors (LED Cinema Display, Thunderbolt Display). While that could be a boon in some ways, Apple does try to differentiate its Mac and iOS experiences. A similar problem faces “iScreen,” but it certainly sounds more fitting for the casual living room environment.
Somehow, though, I just don’t like it as well as “iPane” or “iPanel.”
Between the two, of course, “iPanel” wins easily. If anyone expected the TV to feature transparent display technology, “iPane” would be a sure thing. Perhaps one day it’ll actually exist. But not right now.
No, right now, I really feel like “iPanel” is where it’s at. The word evokes every aspect of the vibe Apple’s hoping to convey. In addition to being a TV and DVD/Blu-ray player, the panel will likely include a custom iOS build featuring Game Center, a Web browser, FaceTime and iMessage capabilities, Siri voice-recognition, iTunes access, and various media hub services. As Misek says, it might even include some home automation aspects. “TV” is simply not a broad enough idea for something like this, and “iPanel” isn’t bound or limited by specs, existing technologies, or any other set of fleeting parameters. It’s perfect, really, and even though I wasn’t a fan at first, it’s grown on me in surprisingly short order.
For me, making this list just reinforced the merits of the “iPanel” option, and I’m excited to see what name Apple ultimately chooses.
You know, if they actually release this thing at all.