High-tech Money Producing High-tech Words: The History of e- and i-
© Brandon McFarlane 2008
Note: this paper has been formatted to be online friendly. Notes and commentary have been placed in brackets throughout. Helvetica has also been used as a nod 70’s branding culture.
A Subjective Introduction with Personal Anecdotes
As technological sophistication has increased since the end of World War II there has been a non-stop love affair between technological companies and word-formation that relies upon trendy affixation. The earliest example is, perhaps, the 1970’s where companies flocked to add the –tech suffix to their names. The late 1980’s and early 1990’s marked the arrival of the compu- and micro- prefixes. Both, generally, were used by high-tech companies to denote some relationship with computers or microprocessors. Indeed, the very first stock I invested in (with my lawn mowing money) was Microstar (a printer chip manufacturer) and shortly beforehand my family bought its first computer (an Apple SE 30) from Compusmart, the local dial-up company/computer retailer. I was only in Grade 3 then, but these sort of stories were common in Ottawa—Silicon Valley North.
This paper is in part motivated by my Ottawa youth. I grew up in the high-tech craze. My friend’s parents were largely electrical engineers, assembly line workers, or supported a high-tech company somehow. In high school, my friends would skip class to work afternoon shifts at Nortel, programming inventory software or were just paid to be there doing very little. The companies were expecting an extreme labour shortage in the near future, and were willing to spend a lot of money on students they expected to enter an electrical engineering program (namely anyone with an A in math). We gambled on high-tech penny stocks. We shared secrets and rumours about startups, much like 80’s Wall Street hipsters talked about bonds; but we were kids.
The pure insanity of the situation did not really manifest itself until Nortel shares hit about 100 dollars. I know more then one parent that bragged about taking out a second (some even a third) mortgage on their house because there was no way Nortel could possibly sink lower. They expected to be millionaires very shortly (same thing with some of my friends, but without the mortgages). When Nortel shares sunk under a dollar the dream had vanished, families were homeless, and there weren’t that many jobs. The first summer of my undergrad degree, I worked overnight at Walmart. The majority of the employees were ex-high workers or journalists laid off from the Sun chain. People with advanced degrees were taking orders from kids who never graduated from high school. The promise of e- ultimately proved to be as empty as the prefix’s meaning.
The nonsensical hysteria of the dot-com boom and bust is closely paralleled in its use of jargon and word-creation. The period was intensely productive with neologisms using –dot-com, -net, e-, i-, micro-, compu-, and hyper- (just to name a few) affixation. The sheer volume and general meaninglessness of these words symbolize the industry’s obsession with image over substance, with simulacra over reality. This paper aims to demonstrate the link between commercial branding and language creation, specifically within the high-tech industries. The paper will focus its analysis on the e- and i- prefixes because they are the two most prominent and the two that the average consumer notices on the daily basis. Furthermore, a comparison between the two prefixes works relatively well because they basically began meaning the same thing (electronic referring to internet; and internet), but evolved differently. The use and productivity of both terms seems to be directly related to the success of the businesses that use them. The e- prefix, relegated mainly to internet startups, has almost disappeared from the lexicon while the i- prefix has lived on, mainly because Apple remains a dominant force within the industry. The paper concludes by offering novel predictions regarding what trends may become prominent in the future, including the death of the i- prefix, the birth of the m- prefix, and the elimination of vowels all together (xmpl: th lmntn f vwls ll tgthr).
State of Scholarship and Methodology
There is a stunning lack of academic interesting concerning technological prefixes. To date Deborah Schaffer’s 2001 “The story of e-” remains the authoritative source concerning the e- prefix. The article is fairly limited due to its length, only five pages, and this is in part a result of Schaffer’s humble focus on primarily offering a brief report on the prefix. The article was inspired by a series of phone calls from journalists asking Schaffer, the chair of the Language Attitudes and Popular Linguistics section of the Popular Culture Association, regarding the prefix’s actual meaning (22). She was similarly concerned about the lack of scholarship on the subject. To date, not much has changed and Schaffer’s work is extremely dated due to the high-tech stock market crash, the dot-com-bomb, the disappearance of the e- prefix, and the newfound relevance of the i- prefix (which Schaffer marginally discusses).
Similar to Schaffer, the lack of academic scholarship forced me to rely heavily upon journalistic sources. I in no way wish to insult the authority of journalists, but the standard 500 word print article is too limited to engage the issue in any in depth manner. However, journalists have created many excellent sources regarding the prefixes and I have eagerly incorporated them within this article. The paper relies heavily upon these secondary sources, and has only casually drawn upon primary sources as examples. Similarly, wikipedia proved to be an invaluable source. The short wiki-article (another tech affix that has become popular) on technological prefixes is, in parts, more in depth and informative then Schaffer’s paper. This is in part a result of the website’s ability to allow infinite and frequent revisions; also, I suspect, wikipedia writers are enthusiastically engaged with technological issues.
The Briefer Story of e-
Schaffer collected over 200 e-words from popular sources such as Time Digital and Time magazine. She tabulated 200 e-words, 60 i-words, and 20 other single prefix words (22). The research demonstrated that e- was an extremely productive prefix during 1999 and that the prefix generally referred to electronic (which really meant internet). E-mail was the most frequent counting for 19-58% of all the e-words in each issue with e-commerce appearing as a distant second (23). Other common e-words were e-zine, e-book, e-business, e-shopping, and e-tailer. The article concludes by suggesting that e- will continue to be productive and e- will remain a prefix within the English language due to society’s reliance upon e-mail and e-commerce. “This survey of words using e- makes it quite clear that this prefix is here to stay. Its versatility as a derivational morpheme ensures that e- can and will continue to be used to turn any word, of any part of speech, into its electronic/computer/Internet-related equivalent, and more economically than its closes rivals, cyber- or i-”(25, author’s emphasis).
Critiques of “The Story of e-”
e- Prefix Already Passé
Schaffer’s statistical focus offers an interesting snapshot of the prefix’s productivity within the popular media. However, Schaffer did not consider any of the existing journalism already theorizing the use, meaning, and future of the e- prefix. A qualitative investigation of the 1999-2001 news media demonstrates an awareness that the e- prefix was increasingly becoming meaningless, passé, and on the verge of death. For example, a month after the publication of Schaffer’s article, a Princeton Consulting executive declared that, “E-business is exactly what you’re doing now, except that instead of doing business over the phone, or face-to-face, you’re getting online with your suppliers and customers” (“’E’ stands for nothing” para 1). In short, e-business is nearly identical from regular business and thus the prefix is redundant. It would be similar to referring to a phone call as tele-business or a face-to-face conversation as oral-business. The article “‘E’ stands for nothing” continues to offer quotes from a series of executives that predict the e- prefix will disappear from the business world because the electronic novelty will then be normal and mundane. Other stories echoed a similar sentiment, including “Post-Bubble Context” which suggests the failed online hype has created a new era of branding. “The New reality is not just that you can’t slap an ‘e’ prefix or a ‘dot-com’ suffix to something and simultaneously boost your brand and your market cap; it’s that a different era of differentation has finally arrived” (Schrage 22). Thompson and Thompson, by July 2000, declared that the e- prefix would become irrelevant in time because there were simply too many companies already using an e- prefix and filings for e- brand name registrations were significantly decreasing (“E-Names Declining in Popularity” 9). Similarly, the marketing industry foresaw the disappearance of e- because it no longer offered uniqueness to a brand. NZ Marketing reports:
Be very careful, warns John Obrecht, managing editor of BtoB magazine (which itself only recently changed its name from the more prosaic Business Marketing): ‘with companies large and small moving to the internet in a big way, the e- prefix will likely become irrelevant in the not-too-distant future. If everybody’s electronic, what’s the value in saying you are, too?’ (Does anybody else notice the motel signs around which still advertise ‘Colour tv’?). (“E-overkill. Thought About Changing Your Company Name” 8, my emphasis)
Unfortunately, Schaffer’s omission of popular technological sources seriously undermines many of her findings, especially her predictions concerning the future productivity of the e- prefix. e- anything was already the target of satirical pieces and was beginning to be shunned by the executive and marketing industries.
The Role of Domain Names
Schaffer’s conclusion suggests in passing that the e- prefix will remain especially productive due to its relevance to domain names (25). What the article is referring to is the explosion of companies that extended their physical business online through a website; the standard form of demarcating this switch or addition was to simply add the e- prefix to the existing business name. Thus an imaginary clothing company in 1998 called Margins would usually register the website name e-margins.com or emargins.com in order to signify both their arrival to the digital world but also to distinguish the online presence from physical stores. Other businesses that operated exclusively online, such as eBay or eToys, used similar domain names to advertise their webbiness. While the e- prefix was indeed chic at the time, companies were not solely adding the prefix to the domain names because it was cool; there were other factors motivating the prominence of e-.
The rush to the net in the latter half of the 1990’s resulted in a severe shortage of relevant domain names. Accompanying the dot-com industry explosion was a new, and legally problematic, field on online real-estate speculation. Individuals would buy the rights to domains that had the same name of companies or buy the rights to interesting phrases that could potentially attract buyers in the future. The “War of the Words – Domain Names” offers an insightful overview of the legal challenges the dot-com explosion was causing in terms of branding and copyright protection. The article begins:
So when an established offline company decides to set up on the web only to find that someone has already registered their brand name, or one nearly identical, it’s little wonder all hell breaks loose. Although there are measures in place to unsure that a company cannot trade under an identical name in the offline world, the law is not so clear cut when it comes to branding rights on the web. (34)
The primary problem originates from the cost difference between registering a domain, a process that costs under $150, and the cost of legal battle for a company to claim a right to an existing domain through litigation. In most cases it was easier to simply add a phrase or prefix to an existing brand name then it was to sue someone to gain ownership of the domain for the brand name. Thus when a company became digital adding e- or my- or –dot-com or –online to a brand was significantly cheaper. The other option was to buy off the rights to the domain for a sum usually around $10000. The payoffs were high and the risks were relatively low for individuals who wished to play the online real estate speculation game.
However, there were only a limited number of domain names available because in the 1990’s .com was the only available domain to North American companies. In 2000 alone, there were 110,000 domain name registrations solely for sites starting with the e- prefix, a number that was actually smaller then previous years (“E-overkill. Thought about changing your company name” 8). The shortage of online real estate created a series of messy and bitter legal battles over domain names. For example, eToys.com offered Etoy.com $500,000 for their domain name because so many potential customers were going to the rival site due to navbar typos (Conley para 2). Etoy refused the offer and a hostile lawsuit ensued. Both companies eventually reached a settlement because eToys stock price fell nearly $50 dollars because of what was perceived as aggressive and mean legal behaviour (especially for a children’s company).
The shortage of domain names and the tendency of surfers to misspell even the most common words, both motivated many of the unusual high-tech spellings, punctuations, and prefixes for brand and online names. The trend seems to have subsided in recent years due to two main reasons. Court precedent was set that existing non-descriptive brand names had a legal write to the highly valuable .com domain names. This means that a company like Nike is entitled to Nike.com or e-nike.com or i-nike.com because everyone knows what the trade mark means. However, descriptive brand names such as fax or mall were not legally protected because they were too generic. For example, a company wanted to call itself emall would have no legal right to emall.com or e-mall.com, because the descriptive title is too general. The second, and perhaps more important, cause of the elimination of unusual high-tech English is that a series of new industry specific domain names were released to help alleviate the online real estate shortage. For example, .biz was introduced for businesses, .edu for schools, and .org for organization etc. Although it is common practice for business to buy as many domain suffixes and misspellings as possible because surfers continue to have problems memorizing actual online locations.
10 March 2000 the NASDAQ Composite Index peaked at 5048.62 more then double its value in the preceding year. A court case, United States v. Microsoft, seems to have triggered the initial market collapses. Investors were nervous that the court would find Microsoft a monopoly and cause a massive self-off of technology stocks. Simultaneously, there were massive profit taking self-off orders for key high-tech companies such as Cisco, IBM, and Dell that were issued 13 March 2000. By mid 2002 the bubble had completely burst with the NASDAQ trading close to 1000, a level not seen since 1995. There is a definite correlation between the prominence of e-words and the dot-com sector. Schaffer was writing her article as the NASDAQ was peaking and dot-com speculation was at its highest. Not surprisingly, 29% of her e-words are company or website names and 10% were specific products (23). Schaffer astutely notes:
It seems certain, then, that some of these e-names will die with their companies or products, without ever securing a permanent niche in our vocabulary. Nevertheless, other e-names, as well as generic e-words, are so common today (eBay and eToys, as well as e-mail and e-commerce) that it is hard to imagine them not surviving even the demise of their namesakes and making it into the dictionary, if only as genericized words whose meanings have broadened from their proper-noun origins (just as kleenex and aspirin already have). Time will tell. (23, 24)
While many of the e-words that Schaffer noted are still in existence several have disappeared. Following the dot-com crash there was a massive backlash against e-words. By 13 July 2000 Marketing Magazine declared that E-names were declining in popularity by referring to the 1999 statistics on brand name registrations (9). Similarly, The Australian agreed with a prediction that the e- prefix would disappear by 2002. The Business Times in “The denigration of ‘e’” reports “During the Internet boom, an ‘e’ prefix was a must-have that symbolized membership in the New Economy. Then the bubble burst, and companies shunned the ‘e’ and ‘.com’ labels like the plague.” Adding to e’s disgrace was a NASQAQ decision to add the –e suffix to delinquent stocks. Worldcom’s symbol became WCOME and MCI Corp became MCITE to signify their foul fillings. In under two years, the e- prefix went from a super-cool and highly productive affix to a shunned existence that was correlated to failed hype.
1998 Steve Jobs returned to Apple Computers, after working elsewhere for 11 years, and made the iMac. The new computer had an immediate impact on the market: it eliminated floppy drives (preferring USB ports) and stylized the computer industry. The computer’s aesthetics made it and the Apple brand very recognizable, especially when used in TV shows and movies. The i in iMac referred to internet as the computer was designed to be online in only two steps. Due to the iMac’s success, Apple adopted the i- prefix for most of its future products such as the iBook, iPod, and iPhone. While the iMac was a cultural sensation it did not seem to inspire many rival companies to borrow the i- prefix. Schaffer’s article does not mention the iMac, but notes that 53 of her 60 i-words were either product names or services that, like Apple, used i- to signify internet (24).
23 October 2001, the same month that Schaffer’s article was published, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod—the digital music player that inspired the plethora of today’s i- prefixes (for a excellent article about the iPod’s birth see Kahney). The name was coined by Vinnie Chieco a freelance copywriter. Upon seeing a prototype Chieco was reminded of the EVA Pods from 2001: A Space Odyssey and suggested Apple call it the Pod (“iPod” Wikipedia; Kahney 3). The i- prefix was added by Apple for the sake of branding. iPod, however, was already trademarked by Joseph N. Grasso for internet kiosks; in 2005 Grasso finally assigned the trademark to Apple Computers. It is ironic that the famous i- prefix in iPod originally had no particular meaning; unlike the iMac it did not use i- to refer to internet. Today reading iPod as internet-pod makes little sense, as the product’s main purpose is to play music and the player does not require an internet connection to operate. The iTunes Music Store allows people download music onto their iPod, but the online element is not an essential feature. Apple has continued to use the i- prefix in most of their products, examples being iLife, iCal, iPhoto, and the new iPhone. In each instance the products have little to do with the internet, rather Apple is using i- just as Audi uses A- to name all their cars (such as the A3, A4, and A6).
Legal Battle Over the i- Prefix. Cisco vs. Apple
The 2007 release of the iPhone spawned a bitter legal battle between Cisco and Apple. Both companies were releasing iPhones at the same time: Cisco’s was a VOIP phone while Apple’s was a cellular phone. The former has owned the trademark since 2000 when they bought out Infogear who had owned iPhone since 1997 (Gardiner). An agreement was eventually made where Apple could use Cisco’s trademarked word. The case is interesting as it demonstrates Apple’s attachment to the prefix solely for the sake of marketing. Cisco’s product was literally an internet-phone, a phone that used broadband to communicate instead of a telephone wire. Apple’s iPhone was an expensive cellular phone that distinguished itself from other phones with a user-friendly interface. The i- in iPhone and iPod signifies little other then Appleness.
Today there is a massive range of products and businesses using the i- prefix for naming purposes. Google unveiled iGoogle, which offers users the ability to customize and personalize a Google homepage; the move was designed to copy the best elements of Yahoo and hopefully knock the rival out of the search engine wars. Coke now offers a web portal called icoke.ca where consumers can enter in their iCoke Coins to see if they have won a prize. These coins replaced the old rubber tabs under the lid of plastic coke bottles that offered prizes. Neither Google nor Coke offer an explanation of what the i- prefix refers to. Hyundia released a new car this year called the i30- a hatchback designed to compete with the Ford Focus. In an attempt to become newer and hipper, Hyundai is naming all their cars with the i- prefix followed by a number; the number refers to the car’s model and size. The company explains that i- stands for inspiration (“This I”). Mitsubishi similarly has released the i a micro-hatchback that has been extremely successful in Japan. The car is popular with the young echo crowd. Mitsubishi claims the lower case i stands for myself because every time you drive your i you are supposed to be spoiling yourself (Sloane). All these examples demonstrate the prefix’s ambiguous nature.
Schaffer, in her short paragraph on the i- prefix, suggests that the prefix has a range of meanings. Schaffer notes the i- can represent eye, internet, or I (pronoun); and in many cases words playfully refer to all three as in the web device i-opener (25). There have been few instances of i- replacing e- in words where it makes sense: email could be more accurately called imail and e-commerce really is i-commerce. Creators of i-words seem relatively unconcerned about the word’s actual concise meaning but rather wish to express a general sense of youth, empowerment, creativity, and hipness. Similar to how Apple disassociated internet from their i-products, imitators of Apple’s marketing have seemed relatively unconcerned with the actual meaning of their products.
The two meanings that seem to be the most prominent are, as Schaffer notes, internet and I. iCoke.ca plays off both potential meanings. The word can mean: I (pronoun) Coke (verb) or internet (adjective) Coke (noun). It makes little sense to read iGoogle as internet-Google because the difference between regular Google and iGoogle is that the user is able to personalize the content and layout of the Google homepage. Thus, the emphasis on user controlled web applications (called Web 2.0) suggests that iGoogle means I (pronoun) Google (verb). While reading the majority of these words as Iverb constructions makes logical sense, the words’ spellings do not support this conclusion.
Technological words have a history of unusual spelling. Internet was originally capitalized. Throughout the 1990’s people debated whether the word should indeed be capitalized. It was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that in 2003 suggested that the Internet should always be capitalized because there was no other place like it. Other media outlets soon followed suit (“Let’s Just Hope…” C1). It is odd then that many i-words, especially those referring to internet, use a lowercase i. Email, similarly, has been spelled almost every way possible: e-mail, E-mail, email, or eMail. The Oxford English Dictionary contains an entry for e-mail and email where the former is a verb and the latter a colloquial form of electronic mail. Email was originally a hyphenated word where electronic acts as an adjective describing the verb mail (“email2” def. 1, “e-mail, v” def. 1). As with most hyphenated words the hyphen usually disappears once the word enters regular circulation.
These two older examples of technological words do not add to the understanding of the unusual spellings of the i-words. The majority of i-words do not use a hyphen, but rather attach the i- prefix directly to an existing word. There are two ways to read this trend: 1. The original use of the hyphen in e-words suggests a conscious word construction that followed the general rules of hyphenation. By analogy then, i-words that contain a hyphen should conform to a similar pattern where i- represents internet as an adjective and i-words without a hyphen are using i- to represent I. 2. The other possible reading is that i-words were mimicking the existing forms of the e-words. By the time that i- became more productive then e- the existing e-words had already begun to drop their hyphen: as in email and ecommerce. The dropping of the hyphen in i-words is probably a result of both trends and there seems to be no standard rule to follow for i-word constructions.
e- and i- Prescription
There are relatively few prescriptive sources offering advice on how to properly create i-words; this is in part caused by corporations who have been the major originators of i-words. Since the majority of i-words are either products or services the words coined for these items are rarely expected to conform to the rules of the English language. In fact, deviation from grammatical rules seems to be done on purpose so that the new brand names stand out typographically. The only rule governing i-words seems to be a general sense that the product must relate to individualized content. Thus the i- appears to stress the consumer’s power of choice and ability to individualize mass produced products. Like Mitsubishi’s micro-car i the prefix communicates the celebration of the individual self. The quirkiness of the iSpellings seem extremely important to the words’ expressive nature; Wikipedia, for example, prescribes that:
While a lower-case i followed by a capital letter would generally be considered a rampant error to the rules of English grammar, in these cases it becomes the only correct way to write it since it is usually a product name. Hence, unlike e-mail, a word such as iPod should never be hyphenated or capitalized in any other way, even in the beginning of a sentence. (“Internet-related Prefixes” Wikipedia)
I, generally, agree with Wikipedia’s prescription because I think that the most important aspect to note about the i- prefix is that it is more expressive then definitive. The vagueness that the i- refers to, what I above called Appleness, can only be adequately communicated through a violation of grammatical rules. The potentially empty signifier correlates to the products’ marketing: it is the how the individual uses the product that gives the item definition.
iWords are Getting iLame
The lifespan of i-words seems to be coming to an end. As the prefix has been primarily used as a marketing device, the words’ productivity will, for now, be directly related to the chicness of the i- prefix. But the prefix’s power seems to be fading as Apple has begun to name products without the standard i- prefix. Apple TV for example was not called iTV and it appears that future products will follow a similar pattern. Satirical articles have been appearing in newspapers and magazines making fun of individuals that overuse i-words. For example, Mike Gruss advises bored workers to “Give everything in your workspace an I prefix. In casual conversation refer to your iLunch, your iCubicle or your iPaperClips. See if the new labels make your things more exciting” (E4). Similarly, Steve Johnson was complaining about the abuse of the i- prefix in “insidious alphabet abuse iS irritating.” The article uses the lower case i- to hyperbolic effect. “iSuppose iShould just calm down and deal with iT. But every time iSee one, iWant to cringe, scream or write a scathing letter to customer-service representatives of the company that thought this was a good iDea” (F02). The status of the i- prefix is quickly diminishing due to overuse, suggesting that the connotations associated with i- may soon reverse and become to represent the exact opposite of the original intention.
Soothsaying: What the Future May Hold
i-, e-, c-, and m- will all become unproductive
As the i- prefix follows a similar fate of the e- prefix, history has shown that the high-tech and marketing industry will likely just simply switch to some newer completely meaningless grammatical trick to draw attention. The beginning of the century saw several pundits claiming the demise of e- and i- arguing that the new world will be a mobile or connected world. Thus, they argue logic dictates that c- and m- will become common place. The Jakarta Post proudly predicted in 2000 that the “era of the ‘e’ world, which is marked by most terms beginning with an ‘e’ prefix, will likely lose out, being replaced by an ‘m’ world. We are about to encounter the mobile world” (“It is ‘m’ now, succeeding the existing profound ‘e’” 7). The Houston Chronicle similarly championed m- arguing, “M is not for the million things your mother gave you, as the old song went. Rather, it stands for mobile; as the Internet speeds up transactions, mobility is where it’s at. (And where it’s at is no longer where it’s at, either; I am on the lookout for the latest phrase for what the French still call au courant.)” (Safire 2 Star). It is eight years latter now and neither prefix seems to have caught ground. I would argue that people are just plain getting tired of affixation and that replacing e- or e- with a consonant offers nothing innovative, unique, or fresh; in short nothing cool enough to merit a marketing campaign.
S LNG VWLS
The newest and hippest trend is occurring in the cellular phone industry where manufacturers are christening their latest creations without any consonants. Motorola, perhaps inspired by the unexpected success of the RAZR (razor) cellular phone, has begun eliminating vowels from their new products. The KRZR (cruiser, but pronounced cruizer) is an under-featured, overpriced, and hyper-stylized phone that hit the market this fall. Similarly, the next generation ultra-slim phone has been christened SCPL (scalpal). Mortorola has introduced style to the industry, noticing that most consumers choose their phones by aesthetics and portability, over the actual features. Although I have been unable to find a source to confirm my theory, I think the names are inspired by the electronic music scene, where it has become extremely popular to create band names without any vowels. Toronto alone homes MSTRKRFT (Master Craft) and VNDLSM (Vandalism), two of this year’s hottest production outfits. Expect to see imitations of Motorola’s marketing and naming strategy in the near future, especially if the newer products are as successful as the RAZR.
Money is the primary motivation behind the formation of high-tech words. Despite the disastrous results of the dot-com-bomb, companies continue the same marketing practices that created the hype that led to a significant stock market crash. The industry seems driven by innovation and imitation; where the most successful brands and products are copied by rivals. I would argue that the brand, especially in the high-tech sector, is extremely dependant upon the product. It was not the word iMac that sold the computers, but rather the company’s innovative approach that focused on simplicity and style that appealed to consumers. If the iMac was a commercial bomb, it is doubtful that many companies would copy their brand.
A brief comparison of the history of the e- and i- prefix reveals that both followed a similar pattern. The hype of naivety of the e- prefix could not be replicated so soon after the high-tech melt down. The i- prefix never has and never will represent the future’s promise in any way similar to the e- prefix. However, the creation and dissemination of both prefixes is eerily similar. Both were popularized by successful businesses, both witnessed a massive way of copy-cat names, and both will last as long as their associated products. An analysis of high-tech language reveals that the industry is dominated by extreme innovation followed by rapid homogenization. These waves seem to last about 5 years. The next big thing will, no doubt, ultimately become meaningless due to its saturation within the marketplace and its adaptation to other applications. The one certain thing is that innovation reaps unlimited free marketing due to the sheer speed of knock-off marketing. Any word that starts with i- reminds someone of Apple.
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