What Does iPod Stand For?

ipodadThere are a number of unconfirmed theories about the the expansion of the acronym “iPod”. The most credible of which are “internet portable open database” and “internet pod”. This is not, however, how Apple marketed the brand. Instead, it was left vague, and it’s uncertain whether “iPod” is (or ever was) an acronym at all.

“i” stands for internet?
The iMac was the first apple product to feature the leading “i” in its brand name. It was marketed as “The Ultimate Internet Appliance”. The computer provided less processing power making it inexpensive and more accessible to consumers. Internet browsing generally required less processing power than professional photo and video editing, more expensive Macs tended to be used for.

Apple Logo

1999 iMac Update newsletter from Apple:
“The Ultimate Internet Appliance When we first announced iMac, we explained that the ‘i’ in iMac stands for Internet. iMac, we said, is the first computer to bring the ease of use long associated with Macintosh computers to the often arcane world of the Internet.”

While the “i” stood for “internet” on the original iMac, it later turned into a signifier for consumer level products designed for personal use; as opposed to the higher performance, professional level products.


Steve Jobs at the MacWorld 1999 Expo in New York:
‘Well, all of our portable machines end with the word ‘Book,’ and our consumer machines start with the letter ‘i’, so naturally, we named it the iBook.’

Products like iBook, iMac, iPod, and software such as iLife, iWork, and iWeb are all designed with the average consumer in mind compared to professional products like the MacBook Pro, G4, and Final Cut. While its original meaning may be difficult to ignore (as is the Internet) the “i” actually stands for YOU, the consumer.

What is “Portable Open Database”?
The story goes: as the developers were creating the iPod, the originally developed software to run the device was called “Portable Open Database”. Naturally adding an “i” to the beginning, they affectionately called the product “iPod”. By the time the marketing department was involved, the name was so widely used, it simply stuck.

The original device was not necessarily “open” source, however. Needing specific software to add and remove files, coupled with the incompatibility of Windows computers; IPOD as an acronym with this expansion would have been a bit of a misnomer.

iPod not IPOD
The word “iPod” probably isn’t an initialism (an acronym that uses only the first letter of each word), even though its origins may suggest otherwise. Apples line of “iProducts” all seem to have a full word after the “i” (iPhone, iMac, iBook, etc.) With this in mind, the word “pod” seems appropriate in its own right.

From Webster’s dictionary:
4. n. A streamlined enclosure, housing, or detachable container of some kind.

If the letter “i” doesn’t stand for “internet”, then it’s unlikely that “iPod” is an acronym after all. But, since “podcasting” (a large part of the original purpose of the device) is almost exclusively an online media, “Internet Pod” has relevance.

Whether it’s simply a brand name, or the word “iPod” has some underlying meaning; acronym or not, it certainly worked. The brand iPod has become an iconic one, and it’s no wonder. The devices simply speak for themselves. Ground breaking user interfaces, sleek designs, and multi-functionality make iPods the most sought after portable media devices on the market.

If this explanation doesn’t satisfy you, tell us: what do you think iPod stands for?

Feel free to poke around the site to find out more about this amazing line of products. This web site will explore inside and out: the iPod Classic, Mini, Shuffle, Touch, and (of course) the iPhone. The blog will be updated frequently with new tips, tricks, and news. Enjoy!

All images used are protected by a creative commons liscense and are credited to the following:
Steve Jobs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mingofaust/
Stewey Ad: http://www.flickr.com/photos/albyspace/