Most companies know exactly what they offer, and to whom, and this is often reflected in the choice of name they go with. Others however, opt for more obtuse titles for their businesses and products in a bid to make them sound cutting-edge. Here are some of the more obvious offenders.
It was recently revealed that Apple figurehead, the late Steve Jobs, wasn’t too happy with the name given to the personal assistance software which he acquired for launch with the iPhone 4S. Siri was the name given to the program by co-creator Dag Kittlaus, a name that he also wished to call his daughter.
In his native Norwegian, Siri means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” – though her English male counterpart was previously more likely to tell viewers, through a voiceover on a UK gameshow, who was the Weakest Link!
There are many theories as to how Jobs’ company got its name, though an explanation given by Owen Linzmayer in his book, Apple Confidential seems to hold the most water.
Alongside Jobs’ happy memories of working on an apple farm in his youth, the company’s formation in 1976 meant that the main rivals in the computer industry were Atari – itself a form of the Japanese verb for “to hit the target” – who was enjoying great success thanks to its home and arcade game systems. The name Apple was eventually chosen simply because it came before Atari in the phone book!
Imagine if instead of Googling something, you had to BackRub it. If the original name for the project co-founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page had stuck, that’s what millions of people around the world would be doing every second instead. As it was, their search engine needed a name that suggested just how vast the internet was becoming, as a googol is written as a one followed by a hundred zeros.
When the company was founded in 1998, their first investor misspelled “googol”, and the rest is history. Even if the newly-incorporated company had been spelled correctly, they would’ve had to negotiate with someone listed as Mrs. Jello for the rights to the domain name, which she has held since 1995.