October 11, 2006
Product Naming: Anything to Avoid "Office"
When it comes to the product names of the applications we use to word process and organize data, nothing is more ubiquitous than Microsoft's "Office".
Many of Microsoft's competitors are avoiding any association with the "O" word in their naming efforts.
For example, Google just launched an online collaborative tool with the name "Google Docs and Spreadsheets". This integrated product replaces Google's "Writely" (think Microsoft Office Word) and Google Spreadsheets (Microsoft Office Excel.)
A company called Zoho has an application with the product name "Virtual Office", but is naming its new online version "ZohoX". That's pretty unimaginative, actually, compared to the names of their other productivity applications: Show (think PowerPoint), Sheet (Excel) and Writer (Word). Zoli Erdos writes extensively about Zoho's product naming in his October 10th blog post.
Google wants to avoid using the "O" word altogether, given its association with Microsoft, but still needs a professional-sounding product name - after all, it needs to appeal to office workers. So they've settled on a conservative name, which probably won't have a long shelf life, unless they just keep tacking on words, like "Google Docs & Spreadsheets & Presentations & Databases".
Check out Richard MacManus' Read/WriteWeb blog post yesterday for some great insight into Google's new application, and what the change means.
Also check out Gordon Mohr's comments on "Google Docs and Spreadsheets". Mohr says it's a product name that is as generic and uninspired as Google Video. He also writes about the genericization of Google and the potential smothering of sub-brands, especially those under Google.
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