CES Trends in Technology Names

By Mark Skoultchi

January 11, 2013

CES LogoWalking the floor of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, you get to enjoy the creative output of the world’s tech marketers. Much of the naming tends to be derivative; you see lots of new iSomethings, for instance. But with new start-ups and 6-month product life-cycles, there are always plenty of new and interesting names to examine and dissect.

Picking Favorites
Some of the most intriguing products of the show also sported some of the best names. For instance, Razer, famous for its gaming peripherals, showed off its Razer Edge gaming tablet. The short, simple name “Edge” fits perfectly with the corporate name and, together, suggest this new product’s cutting-edge technology.

Who knows if 3D printing is the wave of the future, but there are plenty of innovative companies trying to put a Star Trek-style replicator in every home. Our favorite corporate name among these is MakerBot. “Maker” appeals to the creative aspirations of the early adopters who will drive this market forward. “Bot” may be a bit overused in tech naming, but it is easy to spell and remember and ironically gives the product a bit of personality.

We’re also proud to report that Corning’s Willow Glass received a lot of attention at the show. This flexible glass is perfect for futuristic bendable displays. We created this name for Corning, suggesting a willow tree gently swaying in a breeze. It also contrasts nicely with the company’s ultra-strong “Gorilla Glass”.

Boom Boom Pow!
It’s fun to spot the trends. For instance, this year, wireless boomboxes are hot, and nostalgia for the 70s and 80s is peaking, so the names reflect this. Scosche has a boomBOTTLE music player for your bike, there are BoomPhone headphones, and custom BoomCases built out of recycled suitcases. Sookbox lets you stream music to your TV or stereo. Not to mention some names with more history, like LL Cool J’s music website Boomdizzle and Toon Boom Animation.

No Name Naming
A bit of a disappointing trend, especially from the perspective of naming aficionados, is the tendency for companies with strong brands to not name things. For instance, Samsung introduced a very cool Bluetooth speaker at the show but gave it only a model number (DA-F60) and a generic descriptor:  “Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker”. This type of naming does serve a marketing purpose; it emphasizes the power of the corporate name and brand. Samsung televisions also go largely un-named, beyond the corporate brand, and they are market leaders.

Inelegant and Impenetrable Acronyms
New technological standards require naming as much as the product themselves. One of the most important at the show this year was UHD – Ultra High Definition, the new standard for high resolution TVs. That’s right, the new flat screen you are so proud of is very quickly going to be far out-of-date. As a name it’s simple enough, but it seems like a more elegant solution might have been found. And we wonder what will happen when the next generation of even higher definition screens comes out… Super Ultra High Definition, perhaps?

There’s one standard, NFC (Near-Field Communications) which really needs a catchy name. This is the feature that lets you tap your smartphone together with another device to sync information, stream music, make payments, etc. This is a cool technology that is saddled with what we call an impenetrable acronym – knowing what the letters stand for makes you even more confused.

Looking to 2014 and Beyond
We’ll be looking to see how the naming space for 3D printing fills out over the coming years. Various forms of wearable technology started to make an impression at the 2013 show, and we’re anticipating some innovative products with creative marketing in the near future.

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