What’s in a name?

I just had to laugh out loud when I read this. Apprently Verizon will be introducing a somewhat overpriced Android tablet named the Motorola Droid XYBoard 8.2 (and its 10.1″ variant) later this month. Yes, there’s always the general uselessness of yet another Android tablet to write about, but what really struck me was the shockingly awful name. This sort of thing is hardly uncommon in the tech world. And try as I might, I just cannot figure out why companies keep doing it – it’s certainly not to make things easier for their customers.

Just look at phone names like the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch or the RIM BlackBerry Curve 9360. Laptops called the HP Pavilion dv7-6179us or my girlfriend’s Sony Vaio VPCEA290X. Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Enterprise, or Ultimate Editions. How about a Sharp AQUOS Quattron LC-52LE835U television?

Some companies, or at least specific products, get this right. Apple obviously springs to mind – you won’t find more than two words in any of their products’ names. And there are plenty of others: the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360 all sport succinct and catchy names. Even Google gives simple nicknames to each new Android version. Gingerbread, Honeycomb, and Ice Cream Sandwich are all sequential titles and easy for most people to remember.

I see two reasons for this strange aversion to simple naming in tech. The first is that it makes corporate supply databases easier to manage. It seems easier to find a part designated for the Dell Inspiron 620 MT than for an “iMac.” Apple’s used the iMac moniker since ’98 and has seen at least 5 major redesigns in that time. Not to mention the various options for hard drive size, RAM, CPU speed, or display size of each model. But most of these specs can be found by simply asking what year it was bought, taking a quick trip to the Apple menu, or checking the serial number. If a corporation as large as Apple or Nintendo can manage its inventory without obscure numeric labels, then it isn’t impossible.

The second reason is that the people making these products simply do not care. Perhaps, if they’re the engineering type, they consider model numbers to be easier and more precise than phonetic names. If they’re the businessman in charge (or businesswoman in the case of HP), it’s likely that they couldn’t care less how the products are named. Maybe they pay a focus group to come up with inoffensive, bland titles like Pavillion, Latitude, or Satellite and then slap a few digits on the end.

But the kicker is that these sloppy naming conventions only confuse people. I’d wager that most Dell employees couldn’t name half the laptop varieties they sell. At that point, how can regular consumers be expected to keep them straight? Perhaps it’s a byproduct of offering too much “choice” to buyers, which is never a good idea to begin with. If that’s the root of the problem, then why do we get things like the Droid XyBoard? There are only two models, but each of them is horribly named. It’s probably just incompetent management, but it’s still shameful.


– via Daring Fireball for the the XYBoard link.

2 Comments on “What’s in a name?”

  1. My Homepage says:

    Hey, you used to write great, but the last couple of posts have been kinda boringK I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a bit bit out of track! come on! 918116

    • Evan Brus says:

      I agree that I haven’t been spending as much effort on this as I used to. It’s my goal to regularly improve my writing in both quality and frequency, and I hope to step it up in the new year!

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