SAN FRANCISCO Qimonda. It's not a trendy new Vegas table game, but the moniker of Infineon's soon-to-be-spun-out memory unit. It's also the latest mouthful, in the mold of recent Agilent spinouts Avago and Verigy, brought to you by an industry that is increasingly feels compelled to demonstrate its maturity through the adoption of more sophisticated naming and branding conventions.
The head of the looming new company tells us that the name Qimonda "implies the free flow of energy in the world." That's all very well and good, but, for the handle of a memory chip company, it just sounds funny. What happened to the good old days when companies like Rockwell and Fairchild Semiconductor ruled the roost? Names that told you at a glance who was in charge (or had been) and what type of products they made? Or the other classic, straightforward names bestowed in days gone by: National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices?
Don't forget that Qimonda will be the grandchild of Siemens, a German company named for the man who founded it, which spun out its semiconductor business under the name of Infineon (a made-up word combining the English "infinity" and the ancient Greek "eon") in 1999.
Cultured marketing types will tell us that the fact that the semiconductor industry has moved beyond naming companies and products after people and numbers and have incorporated things like animals and dead languages is a sign of progress. Maybe. And maybe these new names won't seem so out of place once they've been around awhile (Agilent, after all, is starting to sound like a belonger). But it feels like we've lost something along the way, namely, the ability to give entities like companies a proper label that tells us why it exists.
Bring back the straightforward names. And let energy and descriptive company names flow freely throughout the world.