Consumer Electronics: June 2008 Archives

The PostNuke Software Foundation, a nonprofit, contacted us to develop a new global brand name.

Although the PostNuke name served its purpose, it had a few shortcomings. The name was confusing and did not meet the organization’s vision for the future of its software.

Taken on as a pro bono assignment, the new name had to be available as a “.com” domain name and had to be pronounceable for speakers of major world languages due to the organization’s global scope.

As you may be aware, it is no surprise to let you know that virtually all one, two, three, four, five, and six letter combinations have already been registered as a “.com” domain or are pure gibberish.

zikula.pngZikula, the new brand name and logo, was created from several Zulu words, one of the official languages of South Africa, where “Zila ukudla” means fast and “Lula” means easy, which are the main attributes of the software.

Plus, Zikula is perfectly balanced due to the multiple consonant-vowel combinations, which makes a word easier to pronounce.

Vanessa Haakenson, President of Zikula Software Foundation said, “We are thrilled with the outcome of the name and logo development process that Strategic Name Development partnered with us on to create the Zikula name. The name is fun, unusual, lighthearted, memorable, and consistent with the genre of Web 2.0 names.”

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The World Wide Developers Conference yesterday, appeared to be a good day for Apple, and was especially interesting from a product naming point of view.

To begin with, Mobile Me is now a reality, as I blogged about a few days ago. The less than suitable .Mac is soon to be a thing of the past, thanks in part to the new, less expensive and faster 3G iPhone.

3giphones.pngThe official name for this smartphone is the iPhone 3G, which is headed to stores on July 11. This ends days of frustration on the blogosphere, when many were wondering if it would be called the 2G, 3G or 2.0. The Crave blog attributes the confusion over what the name would be to the fact that “Apple products are effectively named by the community.“

Crave's blog post was proven right when Steve Jobs seemed to play with the name on stage, referring to it as both the iPhone 2.0, as well as the 3G iPhone.

Now, we understand its official name is the 3G iPhone and if you're interested, you can review the patent.

The next Apple OS X, meanwhile, was unveiled as Snow Leopard, which essentially is just a security and performance update for Leopard.

snowleopard.pngSome bloggers, quite a few bloggers actually, seem to agree that it’s not the greatest name, mainly because you sound a little funny explaining to people that your computer’s “running snow leopard.” One blogger even wonders if Apple is just running out of cat names to use.

On the other hand, it could be argued that giving product naming to a service pack like this is a nice touch that supports the Leopard name.

Personally, the name Snow Leopard reminds me of Hemingway’s Snows of the Kilimanjaro:

Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and it is said to be the biggest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai "Ngáje Ngái," the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.

One thing is for sure. The Apple OS X and the iPhone has pushed the company to a whole new altitude.

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Infogrames_logo copy.pngThere is nothing like a good company naming challenge, but I think that a company called Infogrames has set what might seem like an impossible goal for itself by striving to rehabilitate the Atari name. Yes, Atari.

They bought the name for $11 million and are pumping even more cash into it in an attempt to make it their own.

This is a name that has taken quite a beating over the years, including a Nasdaq delisting a month ago, and has become a name that some simply feel is cursed.

Atari’s history is incredibly complex, but each strand of the story always ends in disaster. Nevertheless, CEO David Gardner feels that the Atari name is still recognizable to anyone who has ever played a video game and that the name will communicate that his company is the “best-funded, best-branded, most energetic start-up in the history of computer gaming.”

One of the reasons that the Atari name lives on is because of its interesting origins. Atari comes to us from the ancient game of Go and is used in a similar manner to check in chess. Being “in atari” means that you are about to lose a game piece unless you move quickly.

There is no doubt that this ancient name, with its roots in ancient gaming, is, at least in heart, a winner.

I can hear the howls of laughter out there already in the blogosphere.

atari.pngYes, this is the same company that gave us some of the weirdest games ever, including the Joyboard and the little known Atari Puffer as well as a whole slew of others that are still only known in the world of retro-gaming.

But interestingly, when Infogrames was looking for a new name, they went to Google and discovered that all the good names they came up with were taken, a lament that I am not unfamiliar with. Infogrames apparently then decided to take on the brand name that they already had, Atari, a name with instant worldwide recognition.

Can the Atari name actually make a comeback? I’m going to say yes, but some very big changes have to be made if Infogrames wants to avoid the Atari Curse.

Blake Snow has some good pointers on the Next Generation that I think should be read very carefully.

The first is that the the various manifestations of the Atari naming have to be combined into one entity. Right now we have Atari Interactive, Atari Corporation, Atari Games and Infogrames' recent purchase. This all must be turned into Atari, Inc.

Atari-Logo.pngIf this is done, the next step is an obvious one, Atari, Inc. needs to create great products that everybody wants. By great products, I mean revolutionary. Offering us a consolidated, recognizable name behind a really cool must have product would immediately wash away Atari’s history of failure in the minds of the consumer.

Anyone who has ever bought an iPod knows exactly what I am talking about.

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Apple Tech Brand Naming: Mobile Me, You Complete Me

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I’m starting to believe the rumors that the Me.com domain name has been bought by Apple, who reportedly also bought Mobileme.com.

It seems as if the .Mac service is going to be rebranded as Mobile Me, leading Apple into a whole new world of connectivity and web dominance.

I dug into the trademark database and discovered that Apple has been working to gain a trademark for Mobile Me in the United States. Currently, they have an international mark, but the federal mark for the United States is still pending in various class codes.

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Make no mistake about it, Apple is all about mobility and the Mobile Me name would fit well with the new iPhone 2.0 that is coming out soon, as well as the various iPods and the Mac Air. There is no doubt that Apple is positioning itself as the brand name of choice for the tech on the go.

To this end, Mac has been buying up .Me domain names with a focus on verbs such as fly.me or drive.me. Some users are not really happy with the Mobile Me name, but I think it fits.
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.Mac puts the entire focus of it’s online presence on the Mac rather than on the mobile wizardry that has rescued the company from extinction, but Mobile Me's appearance coincides well with the upcoming iPhone 2.0 announcement.

Apple will be seamlessly covering four areas: computing, digital audio, portable consumer electronics and a huge amount of web based activity. It brings the balkanized and expensive .Mac concept into Apple’s center stage.

If—and it is a very big if—Apple succeeds here, it will be bringing Internet connectivity into a whole new stratosphere, allowing people to use their new iPhones like desktop computers and to easily hop on and off the Web to publish and update web pages with pictures, music, design, you name it.

What really makes me curious, however, is exactly what this will do to the signature nomeclature “i” g that Apple started a decade ago with iPod.

The “i” is so tied up with the Apple brand that it is difficult to imagine “me” fitting into Apple's product naming strategy. Although, I do think that the two names will stand up well in the marketplace.

I would be happy to use an iPhone to connect to Mobile Me or use Mobile Me to track back to my iMac via my iPhone.

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