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January 10, 2007

New Product Names: The Language of CES

While most people at CES are absorbed in the appearance and function of all the new gadgets, we here at SND are busy cogitating on their names.

streamium.gifFor instance, there’s the Philips Streamium wireless home stereo, designed to let your MP3 files follow you around the house. Engadget describes the device as “dreamy-um.” The name is a good choice. It’s descriptive (since the system streams music) and it flows nicely. What’s more, it rhymes with “premium,” implying high quality (and preparing consumers for its price tag). Plus, as we’ve described before, the Latin “-ium” ending lends a nice high-tech sound to it.

motorizr.gifOn the other hand, MOTORIZR Z6 is a bit of a mouthful. RIZR by itself would emphasize the slide (rather than flip) opening of this new phone. As it stands, consumers may be expecting something motorized. One of my colleagues here thinks “Z6” sounds too much like “seasick,” but I don’t think that’s really an issue. I have a RAZR V3m, and the only time I think of it as a V3m and not a RAZR is when I have to install software. I’m guessing most people will just call the new Motorola phone the RIZR.

One has to wonder whether Microsoft’s Reclusa keyboard was designed for those gamers who spend all day locked in with their computers and never encounter other human beings except through avatars. C|NET wastes no time in making the association with reclusiveness in its review.

First Cable Line’s child-oriented multimedia players, on the other hand, have an uninspiring alphanumeric designation (MPD-101A, though now that I think of it, “MPD” can stand for “Multiple Personality Disorder,” from which you could argue a media player with a GPS device installed suffers) and a frankly hilarious nickname: “Spacecrap.” Gizmodo, while rolling in the aisles at this, still adores the actual product.

The original meaning of “crap,” for those interested, seems to be “chaff,” “weeds,” or “discards.” Neither the manufacturers nor the reviewers appear to think these players are rubbish; the response is more on the order of “This is some good sh**.”

Sansa-1.gifThe Sandisk Sansa Connect has an obvious name, at least in the sense that “connect” refers to its handy ablity to connect to wi-fi networks to get music. The name “Sansa” is a bit more interesting. It’s got a nice catchy sound to it, and it alliterates with “Sandisk,” reinforcing the main brand name.

As to the origins of Sansa, that’s a murkier issue. “Sansa” is the name of a Costa Rican airline. There’s also the South African Network of Skills Abroad, SANSA. In Italian, “sansa” refers to a form of olive oil. Japan’s Sansa Odori festival seems like a much more entertaining and appropriate source for the name of a music player, however.

Samsung’s Ultra phones, for music, video, and messaging, are quite possibly cool enough to live up to their name, but “ultra,” that Latin equivalent of the Greek prefix “hyper,” is starting to lose its impact to overuse. There are more than 10,000 trademarks beginning with “Ultra” (Interesting point of trivia: “ultra” was once a noun referring to political extremists).

Continuing coverage of more product name announcements at CES soon...

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Posted by Diane Prange at January 10, 2007 2:45 PM
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