It’s Not the iPhone 5!

In the aftermath of the iPhone 4S announcement in October, countless dreams of complete redesigns and new features were dashed against the rock. These rumors are being shoved back into the rumor mill that has started to heat up as we head into iPhone announcement season. Despite the intense fragmentation of the rumor-mongering community, most seem to believe the next iPhone will be christened “iPhone 5.” While I don’t know what the name of the next iPhone will be, I seriously doubt it will be given that name. Much of the evidence can be linked to Apple’s shifting product-naming paradigms.

First, the next iPhone would be the 6th iPhone, not the 5th (Original, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S). Despite the fact that the iPhone 4S is only a minor upgrade, Apple has still counted each new version of its phone as a new generation. Therefore, the next iPhone would be the 6th generation of hardware, not the 5th.

Second, Apple has sometimes named products after key features, not after the generation they represent. The iPhone 3G (2nd generation) was named after the 3rd generation cellular network, the “S” in the iPhone 3GS (3rd generation) and 4S (5th generation) was simply a marker for an upgrade from the previous version. This has caused untold confusion, as many of my friends have called the iPhone 4 the “iPhone 4G,” despite the device’s notable lack of the next-gen cellular data network. They also thought that there was a 2nd generation iPhone in between the original iPhone and the 3G.

In addition, the naming trend in Apple’s Mac, iPod, and now iPad lines points towards a possible shift in Apple’s naming standards. Instead of awarding each generation with a new name, it has dropped all names from the product line and instead refers to the product with its generic i.e. the new iPad, the iPod, etc. It is likely Apple will be moving towards that model, rather than continuing the traditional version naming system.

I understand that the iPhone 5 represents the hopes and dreams of the next generation of iPhone hardware, but as we know with the iPad 3–oops! I mean’t new iPad–Apple can be fickle with it’s naming policies. I will end this post with a plea: next time you read yet another post or hear another conversation about the “iPhone 5,” make a point of referring to it as “the next iPhone” instead. There is simply no way to know.

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