What the “i” in iPhone stands for

Many - if not most - of the more than 2 billioniPhone users around the globe treat their little device like an additional appendage. Nowadays, the smart technology is used for everything from sending emailsand watching movies, to buying stocks and making sure pictures are hung straight. As much as we use our phones, though, there is one thing that most iPhoneusers still don’t know: what that little “i” stands for in the first place. 

While some may assume that the “i” in “iPhone” stands for the personal pronoun—as in, this is my phone, and I own it—late Apple co-founder Steve Jobsrevealed back in 1998 that the iconic letter preceding many of the company’s device names actually has an entirely different meaning. During the company’s announcement of the iMac computerin 1998, Jobs declared that the company’s popular prefix was there to indicate one of its products’ main functionalities: getting people on the internet.

“An iMac comes from the marriage of the excitement of the internet with the simplicity of Macintosh,” Jobs said in the address. “We are targeting this for the number one use that consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the internet - simply and fast.”

However, that’s not the only thing that little letter stands for. In the same keynote, Jobs revealed that there are four additional meanings behind the letter: The “i” also stands for “individual,” “instruct,” “inform,” and “inspire.”

“We are a personal computer company, and though this product is born to network, it also is a beautiful standalone product. We’re targeting it also for education - they want to buy these - and it’s perfect for most of the things they do in instruction,” said Jobs. “It’s perfect for finding tremendous sources ofinformationover the internet, and we hope, as you see the product, it will inspireus all to make even better products in the future.”

While many of Apple’s more recent products—like the MacBook, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay—have eschewed the company’s previous “i”-centric branding, it’s clear that the trailblazing company hasn’t strayed far from its original mission all these years later.


Compiled by Olalekan Adeleye


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