Naming the 2012 iPhone: “iPhone 5″ Or “iPhone 4G?”

While the debate over whether the 2012 iPhone will be the buzz-filled “iPhone 5″ or technically correct “iPhone 6,” a new contender for the next iPhone’s name has come into vogue: “iPhone 4G.” Is this a real possibility for Apple, and what would the implications be for successfully marketing the new iPhone?

We’ve been through the naming debate before: technically, the 2012 iPhone should be the “iPhone 6,” given that it will be the sixth generation iPhone, but the media refers to it as the “iPhone 5,” given all of the buzz that surrounds that name. And I for one believe that Cupertino’s marketing department will make sure not to squander the opportunity to stick the “iPhone 5″ label onto this year’s iPhone. It’s going to make them a lot of money, simply put.

But in my trolling of the tech news lately, I’ve noticed more and more mentions of the next iPhone being called the “iPhone 4G.” In a piece from Computerworld, Jonny Evans begins with this passage: “The Apple iPhone 5 (or 4G, or whatsoever the marketing mavericks in the firm’s in-house ‘productizing’ department decide to call it)…” I’ve also seen a trickle of Apple fanbois, geeks, and Simpsons-styled Comic Book Guys troll about this over on our sister site, the iPhone 6 News Blog, at times getting downright indigent that this year’s iPhone will be the “iPhone 4G.”

The calculus here is that Apple will go with “4G” to capitalize on it being the first 4G iPhone, just as they did back in the day with the 3G.

As I mentioned in my previous post today, Apple fans like patterns — we like to find and apply some sort of logic to what we can expect from Apple. This is actually a normal, healthy reaction to a company that goes out of its way to ensure they give us absolutely zero clues about what’s to come. Since we got “iPhone 3G” when 3G came into vogue, so too will be we get the “iPhone 4G” since 4G LTE is not the hot thing.

And for as much as this isn’t impossible to imagine, there are plenty more reasons to imagine that Apple will instead opt for “iPhone 5.” Most importantly, “4″ in the iPhone’s name has come to indicate the iPhone’s current form factor more than anything else. Apple solidified the idea of the iPhone 4 as an indicator of an official form factor once they released the iPhone 4S in 2011 and failed to include 4G LTE. By using the same form factor as the iPhone 4, not only did it put into perspective what a “4″ iPhone looks like, but also aligned a new pattern, since we now knew what a “3″ iPhone looks like; the iPhone 3G and 3GS shared the same form factor as well.

Consequently, naming the next iPhone the “iPhone 4G” or “4GS” but giving it a completely new look and bigger screen would be disconcerting for iPhone users. Also, it would once again fail to cash in on the grandiosity of the “iPhone 5″ brand.

By Michael Nace


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