MacBook Pro: What's in a Name? (Updated)

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Date: Friday, January 20th, 2006, 11:12
Category: MacBook Pro

I was sitting there Tuesday morning all stoked about what would be revealed at MWSF, clutching my mouse and double clicking the refresh button on all the news sites. I eagerly waited. I guessed the Intel iMac debute and waited anxiously for the Intel Mac mini but to my surprise the PowerBook received the Intel chip – or should I say the “MacBook Pro?”
Eek… MacBook Pro?!
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I was sitting there Tuesday morning all stoked about what would be revealed at MWSF, clutching my mouse and double clicking the refresh button on all the news sites. I eagerly waited. I guessed the Intel iMac debute and waited anxiously for the Intel Mac mini but to my surprise the PowerBook received the Intel chip – or should I say the “MacBook Pro?”
Eek… MacBook Pro?!
Jason amused us all here at the PowerPage a few months back when he asked if the PowerBook name needed to be retired (Hey Jason, does this mean you’ll change the PowerPage’s name?) and I ask a similar question: did they really need to change the name?
The PowerBook name worked on so many levels. The word “Power” really worked because it portrayed serious computing power that could be harnessed while on the run and away from the typical desk. The word “Power” associated with “Book” help to differentiate itself from the herd of other lame laptops out there. And from a marketing perspective, it just worked.
The word PowerBook was so Apple. It has become entrenched in Macintosh lore and even amongst analysts and techies the word PowerBook was synonymous with Apple’s mobile hardware. So why mess with it? Nike didn’t retire their “Air Jordan” line once the great one retired. These companies realize that the existing product name was accepted and functioned well despite what was going on behind the scenes. The names just worked.
So why did Apple have to monkey with the name? Was it a bit ego? Jobs got the shaft from IBM/Motorola in so many ways. They undoubtedly made it clear that Apple was such a small player and only purchased single-digit percentages of their chips while the auto industry (BMW uses something like 30 processors in each of their 5 and 7-series cars), handheld electronics, and embedded machines were the key markets to success. So did Jobs change the name to satisfy an inner urge or was it a sound thing to do to differentiate the MacBook Pro?
Maybe the marketing people forgot to travel down to the local fast food chain and realize that MacBook Pro sounds like a item off of the “Mac”Donald’s menu? “I’ll take the MacChicken, MacNuggets and the MacBook Pro. “Can I supersize that to a 17-inch please?” I’m sorry but “MacBook” sounds cheesy. Steve: ya goofed
Sorry to all you Mac faithful who believe that Apple can do no wrong. C’mon though, don’t take yourself or the tech industry too serious, lighten up and get out and do something else (like get a tan and a girlfriend :).
But why didn’t Apple play with the iMac name? Is it because the term iMac refers to nothing under its hood or perhaps the “i” in iMac could double to represent Intel? Personally, the play on the “Macintosh” name was excellent for their desktops and the play on the word “Book” worked well for the portable line.
Why bring the word “Macintosh” into the portable line? Apple must think that the public needs more brand awareness. I think the Apple logo says it all without needing the word “Mac.” If Apple is trying to separate their consumer and professional product lines will we then see a name change for the desktop tower (Power Macintosh)? Maybe MacDesk Pro, MacTower Pro or MacStation Pro?
I guess my questions boils down to this: why did they do it?
As it stood, the naming convention worked:
Consumer products began with “i”:
iMac
iBook
iPod
Professional models began with the word “Power”:
PowerBook
PowerMac
Education with “e”:
eMac (end-of-lifed)
eMate (end-of-lifed)
The product that needed a name change was the Mac mini… it doesn’t fit. Or (conspiracy music playing) was the Mac mini the forebearer of things to come when naming Apple’s new products?
Does this mean that we’ll see more name name changes down the road? Who knows? Maybe we’ll see them introduce another variety of fruit : )

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