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What’s in a name

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

I’m at Macworld, and I’ll have plenty to say about the iPhone later on. (Check the Newsweek website.) But for now, let me comment on something that may not get much attention in all the talk about the new products. At the end of his keynote, almost parenthetically, Steve mentioned that the name of the company he co-founded thirty years ago would no longer be Apple Computer, Inc. He’s dropping the word “computer” from the name. From now on, that company in Cupertino will be known as Apple, Inc.

This is a fairly profound comment on the nature of the entire business, and specifically the business of this particular company. The word “computer” used to be something connoting the future, and had a frisson all its own. But now of course computers are in the most mundune things imaginable. What’s a computer, anyway? A phone certainly is, as well as an iPod. Your car is loaded with them. And so on.

In Apple’s case, the company is as much a music enterprise as one that makes, uh, computers. There have been some quarters where the revenues from the music side dwarf the dough from the much more expensive Macintoshes. Certainly, the company casts a massive shadow in the media entertainment world, arguably a bigger one than in the laptop and desktop world.

I think that Jobs wants us to see Apple as a icon of the future, and sort of a modifier of its own. Apple has “Apple-ized” the computer, then the music player, the digital emporium, and now the phone. I think he relishes making the change on the day that he is announcing the next area where his company will make a big impact. Don’t think of it as a computer company. Think of it as a force of nature.

Issac Newton did.


  • My question is, when will Jobs (in a Prince-like move) dispenses with the word “Apple” altogether, in favor of the simple Apple icon? Then it’ll be known as “The Company Formerly Known as Apple.”

  • David, that’s a great idea. And checkmate for the Beatles!

  • Apple’s brand is bigger than their reach, this was particularly true when they were a computer company because reach is expected to be customer service and Apple doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of a sales office in every corner of the globe. Why not just take headquarters directly there, gentlemen, we have the technology, what was his name?

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