/ Technology

ChaCha? Qriocity? Quit it with the quirky gadget names!

Cut out words

My girlfriend and I both have Desires. Too much information, you might think, and also perhaps irrelevant? But this is Desire with a capital ‘D’, and so slightly ridiculous when you consider it’s a popular smartphone name.

Taiwanese manufacturer HTC hasn’t stopped with HTC Desire when choosing monikers for its more-sensible-than-they-sound smartphone line-up. Their first hit handset was brazenly called the Hero – cue plenty of “I need a hero” puns.

Nowadays, there’s the HTC Incredible, owned by my colleague Patrick Steen, among others. Coming soon is the HTC Sensation, which genuinely lives up to its name, being a super smartphone promising untold speed and power.

The worst offenders

This company has obviously advanced a bit since being christened ‘The High Tech Computer Corporation’ in 1997 – a name almost guaranteed to sound dated as soon as the ink is dry. In my mind it falls into the category of ‘no longer does what it says on the tin’, in the way that Carphone Warehouse isn’t a warehouse and doesn’t sell car phones.

Anyway, back on topic, what on earth was HTC’s marketing department on when they came up with ChaCha and Salsa? Sounding more like a reject Tellytubby (remember them?) and a spicy dip, they’re actually phones designed around Facebook.

I can almost forgive these ridiculous mobile names, as phones are used as expressive extensions of people’s personalities, in a similar way to cars. Now there’s an industry with a whole history of craziness when it comes to dreaming up ways to make four wheels and a chassis sound alluring.

In tech, however, it’s not fair to single out HTC. I found it hard to keep a straight face when I presented a video about the launch of Qriocity (pronounced curiosity), Sony’s lame duck of an on-demand video portal. Bonus points for a bizarre name and a quirky spelling, chaps.

Fingers in the fruit bowl

Microsoft’s latest version of its Windows Phone 7 operating system is named mango. What happens when there’s no fruit left in the bowl? Apple and BlackBerry seem fairly attached to their names, so sooner or later we’re going to have to get the Motorola Melon and Google Goji-berry – a superfood name for a super product… probably.

Deep down I actually quite like the trend for utterly bonkers names. Google’s Android, already personified by a cute little green robot (which looks far too harmless to be taking over the world) also goes a step further down the road to madness.

For some reason, best known to the people inside the Googleplex, each incarnation of its Android operating system is named after a foodstuff. We’ve had Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb. Next up: Ice-cream sandwich.

Lads, this is a mobile phone operating system. Maybe you need to get out more, and quit the junk food. This 21st century surrealism is getting too much! Things should have stopped with the ZX Spectrum. What quirky gadget names have wound you up?


You don’t like cool product names? This means that despite your Desires, there is clearly no poetry in your soul, Al. I like having operating systems named after things – way more memorable than “Operating system V2.0.4” and also more fun.

I’m completely with you on the quirky spelling, though. It annoys me mainly because you end up being unable to pronounce the name of the product. This happens a lot with made up words for products/operating systems as well (my personal bugbear being ‘Drupal’, which I’ve been corrected back and forth on about 50 times).

So, quirky spelling and unpronounceable product names: weird and annoying. Products named for identifiable words, in an imaginative way? Awesome. And I look forward to purchasing an ‘HTC Awesome’ at some point in the near future.

The names that bother me are those where two words become one, with a capital letter in the middle. These don’t exist, as far as I’m aware, but MyBike, AirPen and YouBook serve as good examples.
And then there are those names prefixed with lower case ‘i’s and ‘e’s, such as iPhone and eCommerce. To move with the times perhaps the countries iTaly and eGypt should be rebranded.