Well, the new iPhone has to be called something, right? Late this week, the latest iPhone detail to leak was the naming scheme of the new devices. In a sea of iPhone news that hasn’t been all that surprising, word that the iPhone 8 and iPhone Plus would be the “typical” upgraded devices definitely was. The fact that the device we all expected to be the iPhone 8 could be called the iPhone Edition was an even bigger one.
When 9to5Mac floated the rumor that the coming flagship iPhone would potentially be labeled the iPhone Edition over a month ago, I scoffed and I wasn’t alone. While I realize that Apple is looking to differentiate its new device by features and higher price, making it more exclusive, this name seems an unlikely fit. In my opinion, using such a tainted name would be a bad branding decision for Apple’s flagship device. It’s certainly possible that this report is wrong, but 9to5 is a pretty reputable source, and they got the information from multiple accessory makers. (For what’s worth, The Next Web is reporting, through Dutch site iCulture, that the high-end phone will be called the iPhone X).
Why do I call the Edition name “tainted?” For those who may have forgotten, the Edition moniker comes from the exclusive and very expensive Gold Apple Watch that was available at the product’s initial release. Apple was looking to use the Watch to break into the exclusive world of style and high fashion, and have it become an iconic device worn by the super rich, famous, and trend-setters. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t work out. At all. The original Edition was insanely expensive, starting at $9999, and that didn’t play well at all for a device that that would typically be upgraded within 2-5 years. It also wasn’t stylish enough to be accepted as a legitimate high fashion accessory. It was stuck in the middle, didn’t sell well, and was derided as a failure on the part of Apple.
Thankfully for Apple, the rest of the initial Watch launch went pretty well, and thanks to its exclusivity, the Edition was largely forgotten until time for the announcement of Series 1 and 2. As Apple has done with several other product launches that were less than perfect the first time around (Apple News and Apple Music to name a couple of recent examples), they were able to revamp the Edition into a more viable and realistic product. The current Edition Watch has a White Ceramic exterior, and retails for a still expensive, but less ridiculous $1,249. This price is reasonably in line with more attainable high-end watches made of similar materials.
While Apple was able to rescue the Edition name to some degree with a quick revamp in year two, I still think it is a poor fit for an iPhone, which is a MUCH higher profile item than the Watch. While the current model may not draw derision, I think the name Edition still has the stink of the original Watch model on it in the eyes of the press, especially bloggers and the tech press. They are ALL going to jump on this detail, and try to draw parallels between how Apple tried to create an “aspirational” product that only a very small number of people could afford, and this new “exclusive” iPhone model. Considering that the new iPhone will be much more attainable via a typical payment plan, this is NOT this kind of press coverage that Apple needs for its new device.
Beyond the baggage that the Edition name carries, I just don’t think it adequately fits the product. Even though the Apple Watch Edition is more reasonable priced, it still retails for twice as much as the next model down the list, which is the Series 2 in Stainless Steel. While there will be a difference in price between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and the Edition, the increase is likely to be more in line with the $300 increase between the iPad and nearest iPad Pro. For that reason, I personally agree with those who think the iPhone Pro is a much more appropriate name for the new flagship. However, if iPhone X ends up being the choice, I won’t have a problem with that, either.
All of this complaining aside, it is what’s inside the phone that counts. The name isn’t going to keep me from buying, and if it is a great product, any controversy or complaining about the name Edition (other than the fact that it honestly just sounds a little goofy) will fade away. Even it is called the iPhone Edition, I’m still going to be buying one. I just won’t be bragging about the name.
What do you think of the iPhone Edition name? Do you have any issues with it, or do you like it? Would you prefer iPhone Pro, X, or something else? Let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.