When Apple releases their next handset, its packaging will say the “iPhone 5S,” or perhaps the “iPhone 6.” By contrast, Apple’s next set of tablets will almost certainly be branded “iPad” or “iPad mini.”

Why does Cupertino do this? Former Apple ad creator Ken Segall says that it has a lot to do with marketing, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Segall, who helped create Apple’s iconic “Think Different” campaign, says that Apple employs an iPhone numbering convention since numerous models are sold at the same time. Right now, for example, customers may purchase the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4.

The iPod, iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, however, don’t carry numbers. The iPad 2 was the first, and only, tablet to officially carry a number.

Segall doesn’t expect Apple to quit numbering iPhones. However, he does suggest that they drop the “S” from names.

Of the iPhone 4S, he states:

It says that this is our “off-year” product, with only modest improvements. If holding off on the big number change achieved some great result, I might think otherwise. But look what happened with iPhone 5.

Moving forward, Segall hopes that Tim Cook will introduce the word to the iPhone 6 later this year, and not the iPhone 5S.

I think it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for a new car, you’re looking for a 2013 model — not a 2012S. What’s important is that you get the latest and greatest.

My (meaningless) vote is that the next iPhone should be christened iPhone 6, not iPhone 5S. If it’s worthy of being a new model, it’s worthy of having its own number.

Segall’s comments make a lot of sense.

Going back to 2009, we’ve come to expect modest iPhone updates in odd numbered years, and more significant ones a year later. Some of this thinking is based on the facts on the ground, of course. The iPhone 4S is essentially the same as the iPhone 4 except for some improved internals. By contrast, the iPhone 5 does look noticeably different than Apple’s previous two handset models.

However, by adding an “S” to the iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4S, Apple projected from the start that these models were less significant than previous ones.

With this in mind, Segall says it best, when he concludes:

My (meaningless) vote is that the next iPhone should be christened iPhone 6, not iPhone 5S. If it’s worthy of being a new model, it’s worthy of having its own number …

I don’t know exactly what the “S” is supposed to mean. But I’m pretty sure that 6 is better than 5.

The next iPhone, whatever its name, will be the seventh model in the series. It is expected to launch later this year.