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The end of the ‘iPhone’

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Steve Jobs and an iMac

If Apple were to eliminate the “i,” it would hardly be the company’s most significant makeover. Segall notes that the company is familiar with the revisions and believes Apple CEO Tim Cook wouldn’t lose any sleep over removing the Jobs-era prefix. Apple did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

“Apple has done some surprisingly bold, reckless and risky things in the past,” Segall says. “Every time they changed the processor or transformed the operating system, the experts said, ‘Oh, really? Are you going to rebuild the operating system or transition to a completely new hardware platform? But Apple did it.”

He recognizes that the Apple of today is much larger than the Apple of the Jobs era (with more money at stake and more jobs at stake) and therefore might be more risk averse. However, you also want to be known as an innovator, and sticking with a product name just for brand value reasons isn’t a very Apple way of doing things.

Think different” read Apple’s legendary Emmy-winning 1997 ad, a campaign Segall worked on. He co-wrote the copy for the 60-second TV ad that brought together several pre-Apple geniuses, from Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Martin Luther King Jr. to Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart and other “misfits, rebels and troublemakers.” noting that “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

The campaign was tough; Apple had no new products to sell and, as Jobs liked to tell people at the time and later, the company was only 90 days away from bankruptcy, so his return to the company he had co-founded in 1976 marked a considerable risk for investors.

macman iMac

Just weeks before launch, the original iMac had no official name.

Photograph: JOHN G. MABANGLO/Getty Images

The Think Different campaign improved awareness of the Apple brand, but it took the launch (and mega-sales) of the iMac in 1998 to transform the company’s profitability. This “Bondi Blue” spot was decisive for Apple, and Jobs did not hide this fact from his external advertising agency, TBWAChiatDay.

Initially codenamed C1, the relatively inexpensive, consumer-oriented computer was going to be marketed as a machine that could easily connect to the Internet, a task now ubiquitous, but a rarity in the 1990s. The iMac was brilliant, fun , easy to use and wildly successful, putting Apple on the path to becoming the giant that became the richest company in the world in 2011. (Earlier this year, Apple was overcome by Microsoft as the largest global company by market capitalization.)

Weeks after its launch, the original iMac still did not have an official name. Apple’s internal marketing and product teams toyed with “Rocket Mac,” “EveryMac,” and “Maxter” before settling on “MacMan,” a version of the Walkman, the influential and best-selling portable audio player made and marketed by Sony since so. 1979.

“(Jobs) liked that the MacMan sounded like the Walkman, which was the most famous and profitable electronic device in the world at the time,” Segall says.

“I was happy with the partnership. He gave a speech to the marketing team, saying that Sony was such a successful consumer electronics company that Apple might one day want to be like that, and if it bothered us a little by choosing MacMan, he would be okay with that. “That doesn’t mean “thinking differently” from Jobs, agrees Segall.

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