Do smartphone names really matter?

Do smartphone names really matter?Long-term readers will attest: one thing that never fails to get my proverbial goat is a half-hearted and/or nonsensical smartphone name. How freakin’ hard is it to come up with something vaguely meaningful and – better still – memorable? Gah!

However, there’s another train of thought, a train I’m increasingly tempted to ride, that reckons smartphone names don’t mean ship. Yep, it’s Friday rant time, baby!

First, a little history. One of the worst offenders, for my money, is Japanese manufacturer Sony, so much so that I felt compelled to write – partly for my own sanity – Making sense of the Sony Xperia alphabet.

To date, we have (among others), the Sony Xperia P, Xperia S, Xperia T, Xperia U, Xperia V, Xperia Z… I won’t lie to you; I’d struggle to remember more than half of those specs (even just the display sizes) off the top of my head. They’re just arbitrary letters, and they all start to look the same after a while. Smartphone dyslexia, if you will.

Oh, and how about the Sony Tablet S, Sony Xperia S, and the – wait for it – Sony Xperia Tablet S. Beautiful stuff.

We also have Nokia, with its Windows Phone-based Lumia range. I was actually quite impressed with Nokia’s back-to-basics nomenclature at first. Essentially, the higher the number, the better the specs.

However, things start to get a little confusing when you’re juggling two operating systems (namely Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8), and now we have the Nokia Lumia 510, Lumia 520, Lumia 610, Lumia 620, Lumia 710, Lumia 720, Lumia 800, Lumia 820, Lumia 900, Lumia 920… not to mention insane-o network variants such as the Verizon Lumia 822. Christ on a cross.

Other phones I’ve moaned about lately include the HTC One (surely HTC One X sounds way better than the plain old HTC One?), while the Taiwanese manufacturer also has a newfound propensity for chucking random letters together. Remember the HTC One SV?

Heck, even my beloved Apple (joke (mostly)) has been guilty of adopting stoopid names. Let’s not forget 2012’s “new iPad”. Times change, bro; nothing stays “new” forever. And indeed we got an even newer iPad about six months later. Brilliant.

On the flip side of the coin, while I regularly sigh when Samsung launches another Galaxy smartphone (which is every second day at the moment), the names at least mean something, and make the handsets kinda half-memorable.

And an extra special mention goes to my favourite smartphone name of late, the ZTE Grand X. Ooh, baby!

But does it all matter? The answer I’m proposing today – somewhat surprisingly, after all that rantage – is no, not really.

Names obviously do matter to an extent. I mean, the Samsung Galaxy S4 would undoubtedly sell in lower volumes if it were called the Samsung Galaxy Gay (“world’s happiest smartphone”) or the Samsung Galaxy Rubbish.

But unless the name is offensive enough to put someone off, you might as well call your phone, I dunno, the G300.

See, I’d file smartphone buyers under two categories. On the one hand, you’ve got people like us who read and write about mobile phones on an almost daily basis. We might moan about stuff, but – “at the end of the day” (to use my most hated phrase for the second time this week) – you probably wouldn’t not buy a phone simply because of the name.

Category 2 is filled with people who don’t know if they have an iPhone 4 or an iPhone 4S; people who don’t know what Android or Sense is yet they have an HTC Sensation; people who've never heard - never mind used - the term "phablet" (lucky for them); and the girl who once drunkenly argued that she had a Samsung Google (it was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus).

The second category (and I’m hoping Jan will back me up here) are the types who really only know about the phones they see on TV, and in all likelihood will simply wander into a shop to “see what they can get” – perhaps with a specific price in mind. At which point the sales person effectively makes the decision for them.

These people don’t care how many Lumia phones there are, or that the Sony Xperia phones adopt entirely arbitrary letters, or that the HTC One came after the HTC One X.

My point? In either case, from aficionados to the blissfully ignorant, smartphone names don’t really matter. The end.

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JanSt / MOD  Apr. 5, 2013 at 13:51

My educated guess: 80% of irish people over 40 think "iPhone" is synonym for phone with a touchscreen. I've heard "Galaxy iPhone" more often than you'd believe!

And now: the HTC First. You almost wish they go bankrupt and the First will be their Last

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