An iPad by Any Other Name…or Number

I find it amusing that the most widely discussed feature of the new iPad, announced today, is the lack of a revision number on the end of its name. While most folks were expecting the name to be either “iPad 3”, “iPad 2S”, or “iPad HD”, Apple is instead referring to the new iPad simply as “The new iPad” a.k.a. “iPad”. There’s no extra noise on the end of the name—just the product name.

As it should be.

Until the iPhone came along, Apple has not been in the habit of including revision numbers in their product names, and the iPhone model names weren’t even actual revision numbers until the iPhone 4 came along. The original iPhone was simply called the “iPhone”. The second iPhone was named the “iPhone 3G” because it was the first iPhone that supported 3G data speeds. Note that the iPhone 3G was the second generation iPhone and not the third generation, as some “normal” people frequently assume, while the third iPhone was the “iPhone 3GS” and the fifth iPhone released was called the “iPhone 4S”. This leaves the “iPad 2” and the “iPhone 4” as the only recent Apple products that have used revision numbers in the public product names.

I believe that Apple only accidentally got into the habit of including revision numbers / descriptors in model numbers for iPhones and iPads because of the decision to include “3G” in the name of the second iPhone model in order to make sure that everyone that fussed about the first iPhone’s lack of support for 3G data speeds was aware that the new model did, in fact, support 3G data speeds. This makes me wonder if Apple would ever have gone down the road of including revision numbers / descriptors in the product’s name if they had been able to include 3G data support in the original iPhone in the first place?

I, for one, am glad they dropped the extra decoration on the end of the model names. While folks new to Apple are confused by the decision, it’s more in line with how Apple typically does things and it simplifies the buying process for the average consumer who doesn’t need to remember to, for instance, ask for an “iPhone 4S” instead of an “iPhone 4” or an “iPhone 3GS”—all of which are still available for purchase new from AT&T. Instead, they can walk in and simply say “I’d like an iPad” or “I’d like an iPhone”, and the sales person can present them with the models currently available and walk them through the differences. Assuming that Apple will also drop the revision numbers from the next iPhone released, this decision may be a bit confusing while the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPad 2 are still available in tandem with the new iPad and the yet-to-be-released new iPhone, but once the older models are discontinued, what’s currently a source of confusion will actually reduce the likelihood that an uninformed consumer will walk into an Apple Store or other shop and ask for one version of the iPhone while meaning to ask for another and walk out with the wrong model.