the product naming blog

June 20, 2012

Intel Embraces Xeon Phi Naming for Its New Chip

IntelXeonPhi.pngThe news that Intel has a new multi-processor chip and that it is going to be called Xeon Phi is pretty interesting.

This is a chip with "50 brains," which is probably the best way a non-technical person might think about its power.

Intel says "As we add Intel Xeon Phi products to our portfolio, scientists, engineers and IT professionals will experience breakthrough levels of performance to effectively address challenges ranging from climate change to risk management."

In other words, this is one impressive computer chip, and probably a big step forward for high performance computing.

Its code name was originally "Knight's Corner" and can do a trillion scientific calculations a second, a unit of computing charmingly called a "teraflop" (not to be confused with a "megaflop" and a "petaflop").

The Xeon Phi brand is set to be around for quite a while, partly because these chips can be integrated into equipment users already own.

This is the introduction of a new set of brands that will possibly usher in a new era of supercomputing, or "exascale" computing as the geeks call it.

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June 5, 2012

IKEA Product Naming Faces Challenges in Thailand

IkeaStorefront.jpgIKEA is running into a problem in Thailand that many global companies encounter - their product naming translates, well, poorly.

As The Wall Street Journal reports today, "Is Redalen a) a town in Norway b) a bed sold by Swedish furniture chain IKEA or c) something that sounds uncomfortably close to getting to third base in Thailand?"

"The answer, it turns out, is all three."

IKEA's fifth largest superstore is in Thailand and the locals are finding the Swedish sounding product names pretty crazy. In addition to the Redalen bed, there is the J├Ąttebra plant pot which sounds like a crude term for sex in Thai.

Consequently, a team of Thai speakers has been hired to modify the product naming by evaluating each product name and carefully and slightly changing the names to avoid negative connotations.

The problem of global naming is of course, a subject I have written about before. In earlier blogs I noted that Mr. Muscle sounds like Mr. Chicken Meat in China, and Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" tagline translates to "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead" in Taiwan.

And the list of naming faux pas goes on and on.

Interestingly, IKEA intentionally goes out of its way to create unusual names.

Chairs and desks are men's names, dining tables and chairs are Finnish place names, garden furniture is named after Swedish islands, and the list goes on.

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June 4, 2012

Will We Ever Understand Wii U Product Naming?

WiiULogo.pngIt's probably not a surprise to most gamers, but the Wii U product name will remain on Nintendo's upcoming home console.

This is a source of disappointment for some bloggers who are quick to point out that this product naming decision caused much confusion when it was announced in 2011.

By only tacking on the "U," many people thought is was just a tweak on the base unit, "like the DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL launched in previous years" suggests IGN, who already lambasted the Wii U name in an editorial as "too clever for its own good" because it doesn't differentiate the hardware from previous incarnations.

This may lead to a similar situation as the Nintendo 3DS where the company was forced to put red stickers on the boxes to differentiate them from the DS system while also reminding the people watching their TV advertising that "This is not DS. This is Nintendo 3DS."

I blogged about this earlier this year, pointing out that you really have to dig hard to figure out that Wii U is a whole new console. But Nintendo is adamantly sticking to the name, probably assuming we've figured it out by now.

As one blogger put it last month when it looked like the name was sticking around, "The Wii U Name is Final, Deal With It." I probably couldn't have put it better myself.

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May 31, 2012

Five Wives Product Naming Too Much for Idaho, But OK in Utah

FiveWives.jpgSo "Five Wives" vodka has been banned in Idaho as being offensive to both Mormons and women, although the product is made in Utah, home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The label depicts five women in 19th century garb holding kittens in what may (if you squint and sort of tilt your head) be suggestive poses.

The Idaho State Liquor executive says sniffily "Products that we feel are marketed toward children, or are in poor taste with respect to our citizens will not be authorized for distribution."

Okay, but if the name and imagery is fine in Utah where Mormons comprise 62% of the population, why is it offensive to the state of Idaho where Mormons make up just 23% of the population and where right this moment Idahoians are buying "Free the Five Wives" t-shirts?

In addition to the sale of Five Wives, a brew named Polygamy Porter is made and consumed in Utah, and interestingly, Polygamy Porter is sold in Idaho.

An Idaho State Liquor executive sheds more light on this mystery saying that the vodka product space is crowded and, "There was nothing that really differentiated [Five Wives] other than its name and its label that had five women with cats in their crotches covering their genitals. We make decisions all the time in what we can fit into our stores."

But is differentiation really necessary? And what other vodkas offer similar labels?

Plus, the name, according to its creator in Utah, has nothing to do with polygamy: "The person who came up with the name, she really liked the idea of five wives sitting around having a drink. There really is no pointed meaning to it and everyone can bring what they want to it... it's not about making fun of Mormons at all. Quite simply it's a name that seemed to fit."

To make matters more interesting, the five wives on the label aren't even wives!

According to ABC News "They were sisters: the Barrison Sisters, a vaudeville troupe of dancers whose appeal was that they titilated by asking if audiences would like to see their female organs. They then would lift their skirts, revealing pussycats."

The head of marketing at Ogden's Own Distillery, maker of Five Wives, had this to say when he was told of the photo's history, "To us it's just an image. We love the fact that there was a mystery to where it came from. And so what? They're cats."

Have to agree with that.

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FDA Finds Corn Sugar Name Not Too Sweet

High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup.pngAh, some names die ignoble deaths.

Take, for example, the fact that the FDA has just nixed the name "Corn Sugar" for High Fructose Corn Syrup.

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) would like to see the Corn Sugar name as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has such a bad rap.

I have been following this story since September 15, 2010 when I noted that HFCS is one of the biggest sources of calories in the American diet.

The rewards for a name change are obvious. Think about how much better Canola Oil sounds than Low Eurcic Acid Rapeseed Oil.

In 2011 I noted that the corn industry was slowly introducing the term into their ads and had created web sites like and At that point the FDA warned that "It would be affirmatively misleading to change the name of the ingredient after all this time, especially in light of the controversy surrounding it... If we allow it, we will rightly be mocked both on the substance of the outcome and the process through which it was achieved."

The FDA has now nixed the name altogether, partly on the grounds that the product is a syrup and not a sugar.

The Sugar Association is loving this, with one lawyer in their camp saying bluntly "What's going on here is basically a con game to suggest otherwise... What do con men do? They normally try to change their name. The FDA has thankfully stopped that."

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