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The Meaning Behind the Name

Ever since the Pre was unveiled at CES people have been puzzled by Palm's naming decision.  Sure, "webOS" made sense in a broad perspective, but "Pre" seemed really out of place. And unfortunately for us Palm-fans, that has sometimes made us the butt of some bad "Pre"-puns (you know who you are).

Not too long ago, Palm's very own Matt Crowley was answering questions on Facebook.  Among his many, mostly informative posts, was this small tidbit on the meaning behind the name:

The "Pre" name came from the basic idea of anticipating your needs. It is not about the phone correcting things that it thinks you did wrong. That can be really annoying. The concept is more around providing the information you may need at the point where it is most convenient.

And that was all we had to go on. It was a short and sweet explanation, but worked. Well, recently it was uncovered that Palm hired Catchword Branding to come up with the name of their new smartphone.  They've outlined the painstaking progress that lead them to "Pre" on their blog, though only lightly touched on the meaning of it.  For that, they sent MobileMag an email detailing the thought behind the name "Pre":

For starters, the name is a short, single syllable, word that pairs very nicely with the Palm company name. And, of course, because it begins with a "P" it's alliterative. Palm Pre just rolls off the tongue.

In addition, it makes use of an accented "e", which is consistent with other products in the Palm portfolio, including the Treo (and the Foleo), which also makes use of an accented "e". The accent is also a really nice device for distinguishing the name visually in the market.

The messaging communicated in the name is intentionally broad in order to avoid pigeonholing and the suggestion of a specific *type* of phone (e.g. text phone, music phone, camera phone, etc). General associations with setting a new PREcedent, and the implication of things to come were of course intentional. You get a bit of redefining what it means to be a smartphone. And maybe you get a little speed and efficiency from the name if you're taken to Prix as in Grand Prix.

Lastly, and this is really important, the name doesn't try to out "cool" all the other phones in the space. It's not a "Dare" or a "Decoy" or a "Sway" or a "Juke" or a "Mirage" or whatever. Pre is more understated and allows the phone itself to take center stage. And right it should, it's an amazing phone. You don't buy this phone because it sounds cool - you buy this phone because it IS cool!

Knowing all that really quite beautifully justifies its name. And thinking back, I never really remembered the Pre because of a snappy name, but by how incredible the device itself was.  In that sense, "Pre" works really nicely.  It's really just a matter of time until the name sinks in for good, then we can get back to business and stop with all horrible pre-release puns.

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Tags : palm, pré
Mardi 7 Avril 2009
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