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This article was published on December 22, 2020


All I want for Christmas are gadgets with regular names

The HF3520/01 can fuck right off

All I want for Christmas are gadgets with regular names


Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum lies somewhere between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He wr Callum lies somewhere between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — and also makes the occasional odd video.

Santa, if you’re reading this, please use your intense occult powers to do me a favor this festive season: stop companies naming their products incomprehensibly. Please? I’ll leave you some weed-laced cookies? Just make sure I get gadgets with regular names.

This trend of ridiculously named hardware irritated me before, but hit fever pitch recently when I was trying to buy a wake-up light. This is, as it sounds, a light that wakes you up. Effectively, they simulate the sun rising, meaning you surface from your slumber in a way that feels natural.

After a bit of research, it seemed that the best brand to go for was Philips. So, I browsed the company’s website. And what was I confronted with? A series of wake-up lights with the dumbest possible names, I’m talking shit like HF3520/01, HF3510/01, HF3505/01, HF3500/01, and HF3531/01.

And, believe me, that list continues — especially if you’re on something like Amazon. It’s nauseating.

philips wake-up light gadgets with regular names
WHY AREN’T WE ALLOWED GADGETS WITH REGULAR NAMES?

The thing is… I just don’t understand why companies do this. There are times when it seems like the whole tech world copies Apple (you know, like removing headphone jacks from phones), but at other moments the company appears to be out there by itself (like these naming conventions). Let’s zoom in on this latter part.

Apple isn’t the only company selling gadgets with regular names, but it is one of the best at it. Let’s just consider the latest iPhone line up. There are four models: the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

It might take you a couple of reads to get your head around, but there’s a clear logic at work here, something that makes sense on a fundamental level. You can guess that “pro” probably means it’s good, “max” suggests that it’s bigger, and “mini” means it small. These are gadgets with regular names — and I love it.

Compare that to another massive company which has the opposite approach and fully embraces awful naming conventions: Sony. Let’s consider their headphones.

Can you tell me anything about what separates the WH-1000XM4, the WH-HN910N, WH-XB700, or the WH-CH710N? Hell, I’m paid to write about gadgets and I can only tell you about one of those models because it’s one of the best pair of headphones on the market.

This whole approach is utterly bizarre.

Let’s ignore the irritation element, and just look at the business side. If you’re a company that makes gadgets, you want to do one thing: sell more of them. And one of the ways you do this is by building a brand, creating something that’s recognizable and that people can tell each other about. That’s why it’s called a Big Mac rather than a BM-221GC.

Surely, surely, giving a product a name that’s just a collection of numbers and letters harms its ability to build a recognized brand and sell more? I can’t imagine a world where this isn’t the case.

So, Santa, can you let all these CMOs know I’m not happy? Tell those chumps to give me gadgets with regular names. Or else.

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