Even before he officially became Apple’s advertising lead, Ken Segall spent decades creating memorable ad and marketing campaigns for Steve Jobs’ computer company through firms like BBDO and Chiat-Day. But when he finally joined Apple in 2005, one of his main tasks was to help create a name for the company’s first-ever smartphone, which would later be named “iPhone.”
On Monday, Segall spoke to students from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management about how Apple came to launch the iPhone, and how he and his team were charged with creating alternate names that didn’t end up being used.
“When the iPhone came out – this is a little inside Apple story – there were some legal issues,” Segall said. “Some of you may be aware that Cisqo had a product called iPhone, they were hassling Apple because it was popularly reported that [iPhone] would be the [name]. So at Apple, every other day it was going to be iPhone, [then] it’s not going to be iPhone. We were charged with coming up with alternate names for the iPhone.”
Segall showed the University of Arizona students five total names, but said only four of them were actually considered. The student who could guess the name that was never considered would win a free copy of Segall’s book, “Insanely Simple.”
“One of them was called Mobi, which stands for the Mobile Device. One was called TriPod, which was the combination of three things – a music player, a phone and the Internet. Another one was MicroMac, because in fact it was a computer – they were selling Macs all these years, so for Apple to say “it’s a computer you put in your pocket, it’s a tiny Mac,” it certainly could have some appeal. TelePod – a combination of phone and iPod, with a little sci-fi flavor to it to give it a little personality. And last, iPad.”
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The first student that raised her hand correctly guessed “MicroMac” was never considered as a serious name for the iPhone.
“Damn it!” Segall exclaimed to much laughter. The former ad lead then explained that he made up the name “MicroMac” specifically for his presentation to see what his audience would think of the name.
“The funny thing is, all these names actually were considered and iPad was in fact one of them. That’s the most amazing thing: Had they called the iPhone ‘iPad,’ who knows what the iPad would be.”
Segall worked on several notable Apple campaigns, including the company’s “Think different” campaign in 1997, when Jobs returned to his former company, as well as the branding effort behind the very first iMac.
Watch the video from Segall’s presentation to the University of Arizona students below.