For my inaugural ‘Loper report, which I’ve delayed almost as long as Vista, I thought I should tee off on something that really gets my goat. And that is: how companies come up with their positively idiotic names for products. You know what I’m talking about. Those names that sound like they were picked from an eye chart at random.
Shall we begin? Let’s look at why Sony is failing so miserably in the MP3 market. Now one could certainly make the argument that it has to do with their miserable hair-brained online “Connect” store, their deplorable piracy prevention tactics, and their confusing support for multiple and/or conflicting DRM systems. Oh gosh, let’s just throw a dart at the board and say they have screwed up from start to finish, OK? However, please allow me to submit reason #21 on that dart board of infamy. Earlier this year when I was researching this piece I went to the top product they had listed on the MP3 player section of their Web site. It was called the NW-E105PSWHI. Now, do kids go around saying “Dude, have you got the latest NW-E105PSWHI? It’s totally rad!” No, they don’t. Cute, short names are all the rage. (Hint: iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, NO F’D-UP COMBINATIONS OF LETTERS AND DIGITS TO BE SEEN!) I don’t believe this product is still available since I started this rant in April 2006 but I went today and well, I guess they have improved somewhat since their names are actually a bit shorter: NW-S203F and oh wait, there is the ICD-U50, which sounds vaguely like an abortifacient.
Why is the current widescreen television I’m salivating over on Amazon called the Sharp Aquos LC46D62U?
Now one company who, believe it or not, has got it right is yes, Microsoft! They have the “Zune.” That’s it, folks! Just “ZUNE.” Now, they may very well start adding hilariously stupid names and numbers to this as soon as they put out additional paperweights, err, models, of their MP3 player but I give them mad props for getting it right on their inaugural effort. Huzzah!
But let’s not limit ourselves to just technology companies since really, nearly every company does this. Can somebody tell me why it is a Subaru WRX STI? Why my new razor the wifey got me for Christmas is the Norelco 7735X? I could really go on for a long time here but I don’t want to test your patience any more than I have, gentle readers.
Let me end by saying this all reminds me of a great Dilbert cartoon where an engineer says to our eponymous hero something like “Oh, I’ll make this shortcut easy to remember, a simple Shift+Alt+Control+F4+Delete combination should do the trick.” Because this is what has happened, we have let engineers take over the marketing departments in all but seemingly a handful of companies around the world. It’s a sad state of affairs.