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This article was published on January 23, 2018

The meaning behind Apple’s ‘i’ is really disappointing (for some)

The meaning behind Apple’s ‘i’ is really disappointing (for some)
Alec Zaffiro
Story by

Alec Zaffiro

Alec is a student at Western Kentucky University currently studying Accounting and Entrepreneurship. He's always had a passion for ideas, te Alec is a student at Western Kentucky University currently studying Accounting and Entrepreneurship. He's always had a passion for ideas, technology, and creating things. Since he started college in 2014, he's been determined to build a product / brand with a purpose beyond sheer profit. His interest in literature combined with studies in start-up innovation lead him to create the blog you're reading today.

If you share love for Apple like I do, you’ve come to greatly appreciate that little lowercase ‘i.’ There’s an intrinsic charge about it; it certainly represents something.

What “i” think

The other night I pondered the implication behind Apple’s signature prefix. Before any research, I knew nothing about the ‘i’ and what it really stood for.

First thing I thought of? The concept of self.

The ‘i’ represents you, the user. The device is an extension of who you are, what you think, and what you do. My iPhone represents the things I love and care about. It reflects my personal preferences and it’s customized to fulfill who I am.

The parallel between hardware and intuition creates a compelling connection. A feeling of familiarity permeates our spirit when we think about Apple and their repsective products.

It’s as if these devices were made specifically for us… in a way, they are.

Apple’s philosophy has always centered around the consumer. Apple has and will continue to build technology products around you.

The ‘i’ is a stamp of that commitment.

The literal

Turns out, there is literal meaning behind the prefix and it comes from the man himself. In 1998, Apple announced it’s release of the iMac. During the keynote, Steve Jobs touched on the significance behind the iconic prefix:

iMac comes from the marriage of the excitement of the Internet with the simplicity of Macintosh. We are targeting this for the number one use that consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the Internet — simply and fast.

Internet. The ‘i’ stands for Internet.

Among other things…


Steve Jobs, Apple keynote, 1998 Source: YouTube

Internet, individual, instruct, inform, inspire.

These were Apple’s initial intentions behind the ‘i.’ I find them quite fitting. My original take on the meaning aligns perfectly with the “individual” aspect.

But take note.

These principles were established nearly 20 years ago — a lot has changed over the last couple decades. The simple ‘i’ embraces new forms.


As you now know, “inspire” is one of the five intentions behind the prefix. It’s no secret Apple inspires everyday. They’ve upheld that value in it’s entirety.

It’s grown, though.

Through inspiration, instruction, and information, the ‘i’ evolves into something completely new. If Apple were to assess the meaning of the prefix today, I think it’d be something like this:

Innovate. Invent. Initiate. Idea.

Apple’s planted a seed in our minds. We know about the humble beginnings; we know the company started in a garage.

The fact Apple started small serves as a beam for possibility and potential. They’ve sparked the wonder of young business minds all over the globe.

Apple justifies the desire to dream, try new things, and be different.

That’s where this theme of innovation comes from.

You see more and more people wanting to create their own. Startups are on the rise like never before.

People are innovating because they are empowered through their technology.

So many people look at the story of Apple and feel something. It gets people excited to create and share their ideas.

Steve Jobs changed people’s perception of what it means to be an inventor; that’s why he’s a hero. Through the process of manufacturing amazing products, he showed the world why we need people like him.

He expressed the importance of innovation in a way never done before. He’s an advocate for building the future.

If Steve was still with us today, I believe he would gladly adopt new symbolism for the letter. Apple continues to influence and encourage the world to take initiative.

You are the power behind Apple’s ‘i.’

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