We knew the iPhone could have looked different, but what if it had never been called the iPhone at all? How about the Mobi, Telepod — or even iPad? This was the topic of discussion at a recent event at the University of Arizona’s Department of Marketing.
Ken Segall, a former advertising creative director with Apple, was the one who spilled the beans, according to 9to5Mac. Segall said that the eventual name “iPhone” was in the running from the start, but Cisco actually owned the trademark (IPHONE was the name of their Internet-connected phone system). While a deal was eventually reached to allow Apple the use of the iPhone name, Segall said other names were developed just in case, before the phone came out in 2007.
The name Mobi, meant to be short for mobile, may have been a way to give the device some “personality,” according to Segall. TriPod was another option, which would have linked the device to Apple’s already popular iPod and convey its three main functions: “a music player, a phone, and [a browser for] the Internet.” TelePod was a possibility, again using the iPod branding, but this time with a simple “tele” prefix to signify telephone.
Segall also said that Apple considered calling the iPhone the iPad, which sounds crazy in 2013, but it’s now known that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had visions of a tablet-like device long before the idea of a phone.
Jeff Segall is probably best known for his work at Apple and Intel — he and his team were responsible for Apple’s “Think different” campaign – but the author of Insanely Simple also worked with Jobs at his ’80s-’90s computer company NeXT.
iPhone branding was also in the news last month when the Brazilian company Gradiente SA claimed it filed trademark paperwork for the name “iPhone” in 2000, as reported by the Associated Press. The company was eventually granted the use of “iphone” — with a lowercase “p” — last December, but it’s unlikely Apple will be forced to change the name of its mobile phone device for sales in Brazil, even though we now know a nice list of alternate names does exist.