By John Dodge
Posting in Technology
Last week, Boston Globe tech columnist Hiawatha Bray gave a thumbs up on Kodak's new Zi8 pocket video camera, but hated the name. Kodak listened and is sponsoring a public contest to rename the HD minicam whose genre was popularized by the Flip MinoHD. by John Dodge
Last week, Boston Globe tech columnist Hiawatha Bray gave a thumbs up on Kodak's new Zi8 pocket video camera, but hated the name. Kodak listened and is sponsoring a public contest to rename the HD minicam that succeeds the Zi8. The genre was popularized by the Flip MinoHD, a much sexier name.
Let's dissect the Zi8 name the current model is stuck with (my apologies...I originally had it that the current model would be renamed). Is the Z because Kodak is at the end of the line when it comes to innovation? I hope not. Lower case i conjures up fast and sporty BMWs. In fact, Zi8 seems to step on BMW's Z Series roadsters and the company's frequent use of lower case i on many of its models. However, I'd be hard-pressed to confuse a $180 minicam with a $40,000 sports car.
To an oldtimer like me, 8 suggests Super 8 video from a half century ago...or maybe 8-track tapes. Best ditch it although i suspect I am not exactly the demographic Kodak is shooting for. The Zi8 is a bad name, conjuring up nothing to the technologies of yesterday year.
I doubt if anyone suggested to Ford that it scrap the Edsel name which came to symbolize product failure. After all, Edsel was a member of the Ford family (I wonder if anyone has a child named Zi8). Surprisingly, I could not find a comprehensive list of bad product names on the Internet, but did stumble across a few. And there's plenty of humor on topic.
The Gap's Boyfriend Trouser line came in for some derision. Microsoft Bob, the software interface with human, animal and desktop metaphors, was a bad product that deserved a bad name. I asked Bill Gates about the Edsel of software about 15 years ago and he yelled at me like he did in a lot in interviews.
Marketing blogger Matthew Stibbe is down on made-up words names like Compaq's (now HP) Pressario and ProLiant. Tech is rife with pseudo words whose craze was set off by the Pentium from Intel in the mid-90s. Its primary purpose was to register a trademark, thus preventing others from using it. ThinkPad is another example a something that sounds like word but isn't. Real dictionary words cannot be trademarked.
Technology also has plenty of lackuster if not bad names: 3270, HFChkNet, Laptop Sniffer and Funk Proxy are a few choice ones. The Light Reading web site about networking has a great list of the worst company names ever. Many would appear made up, but are funny nonethless.
Kodak is accepting name suggestions via Twitter to Kodak's chief marketing officer @JeffreyHayzlett (add the hashtag #nameaKodak). Or you can leave a comment at Kodak's A Thousand Words blog.
Deadline is Aug. 24 and Kodak will hand out 100 Zi8s to folks with the best suggestions. The new name will be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January at which time I would suspect the successor to Zi8 will be introduced.
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Aug 19, 2009