AzoftSpotlightCodenames for Software Updates: Why Do We Care?

Codenames for Software Updates: Why Do We Care?

By Vladimir Tchernitski on April 18, 2012
snowleopard Codenames for Software Updates: Why Do We Care?

Whenever a new tech product release is anticipated, numerous rumors and debates spring up all across the web. What will be the next hot feature? Date of release? New look? And finally, what will the update be called?

Obviously, we're excited about new features and a fresh design, but why care about the name? After all, the name does not in any way affect the product's functionality or performance, yet it is a huge topic for discussion. These days, our gadgets run on Ice Cream Sandwiches and Snow Leopards, forget the old boring 'version 4.1.1'.

Take Android, for example. We don't know whose idea it was to name Android updates after desserts, but it certainly was a cute move on Google's part. The delicious-sounding codenames like Cupcake, Eclair, and Gingerbread are an effective way to grab the user's attention. Incidentally, the names go in alphabetical order so we're tempted to guess what the next release will be called. The current Android OS version is called Ice Cream Sandwich. Rumor has it, Jelly Bean will come next. Considering its popularity, the Android platform could be around long enough to get all the way to z, eventually running out of letters. By the way, Apple already seems to be running out of cat names for their Mac OS X updates.

Speaking of Apple, have you ever wondered why the new iPad isn't called iPad 3 or iPad HD, as many people originally thought? When Tim Cook presented the latest iPad last month and kept referring to it as 'the new iPad', many people seemed disappointed. For some reason, the name iPad 3 sounds more exciting and promising as opposed to 'the new iPad'. In other words, an updated name implies more updated features. On the other hand, there might be some good reason why Apple chose to keep it clean and leave the name as is. Possibly, Apple is planning to release another iPad version, which is smaller and more affordable, and call it something like iPad Nano or iPad Mini. In case there are two different iPads on sale simultaneously, adding a number to the name would be awkward and confusing. Perhaps Apple is just trying to avoid that. After all, Apple likes to keep it clean and consistent.

Microsoft Windows, on the other hand, is all over the place when it comes to names. During the years Microsoft has been in business, we have seen it all. Windows 95, Windows 98, Millenium, XP, Vista… Finally, Microsoft decided to sort this mess out, count the number of updates they've had, and switch to numbers. Hence, the current version is called Windows 7. Let's just hope they'll stick to numbers from now on. Clearly, they've had some major consistency issues in the past.

Assigning a new codename to a tech product update could be an effective marketing move, provided it is done correctly. Worst thing a tech company could do is make it confusing for the user, while trying to be creative or innovative. Google's Android seems to have gotten it right. Microsoft – not so much. When in doubt, the safest approach is to use the 1.0.0 format. The bottom line is, no matter how creative the name sounds, it cannot make up for poor quality of the product.