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Peter Clarke
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Most of the good names are trademarked
Peter Clarke   8/29/2013 8:54:13 AM
One thing you have overlooked is that most of the good names are in use and often heavily trademarked.

It might be hard for Sony to use "Glass" when Google is using Glass for its head-up display.

This reduces most companies to choosing between a part-number type SKU or a compound nonsense word such as Impetuum or Magnirium

After that they have to hope that the goodness of the product and marketing dollars can make that name or part number resonate with the consumers.

But I agree the identification of flat screen TVs is confusing.

 

SimonBarker
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Re: Most of the good names are trademarked
SimonBarker   8/29/2013 10:05:18 AM
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At the risk of being pedantic the HMZ-T1 came out in 2011 so I'm sure Sony could have trademarked "Glass" it if they wanted when they went in to the design phase. Anyway, Sony Immerse would have been pretty good too.

Caleb Kraft
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yes!
Caleb Kraft   8/29/2013 9:50:14 AM
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I have had this conversation over and over and over with friends. Some companies simply don't get it. Sony and Samsung are particularly bad about this. Toshiba did this with their laptop lineup, sure they may say satellite, but there are 700 variations under that name.

Word of mouth is a strong force and if people can't recommend your product even when they want to, you're doing it wrong.

SimonBarker
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Re: yes!
SimonBarker   8/29/2013 10:01:03 AM
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Totally, word of mouth is the cheapest (and best) form of marketing so if people can't remember what it's called  - it isn't going to get passed around. Also, it makes things sound really technical and complicated when really people just want "The best TV $800 can buy".

junko.yoshida
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product brand and product number
junko.yoshida   8/29/2013 10:41:36 AM
Simon, I think there is a little confusion in this argument. There are product "names," and there are product "number" in many CE devices.

For example, Sony's latest series of Android-based smartphones are known as "Xperia." That's a product name consumers refer to when they recommend Sony's phone to their friends.

Now, when it comes to Xperica M, L, E, T, ZL, ZR, i have no idea what logics Sony used to attach those alphabets.

So, if you are agument is about making it more logical to those numbering systems, by all means, yes, they should.

But to an extent, many CE vendors are now coming up with specific product names for specific product categories to establish branding -- beyond the company's name, such as Sony.

SimonBarker
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Re: product brand and product number
SimonBarker   8/29/2013 11:00:08 AM
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To me (and the general public) the name is the whole thing that relates to their product ie Xperia M or Xperia L etc. My point is a:do we really need 6 versions of the Xperia (beating in mind that they have other ranges of phone) and b: if you must then atleast give the customer a context or framework that makes those numbers and letters releavant to them. 

 

Something simple like Xperia Lite, Xperia Pro, Xperia Photo, Xperia Media, Xperia Family etc. These are somewhat naff but I know where I fall in that range.

junko.yoshida
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Re: product brand and product number
junko.yoshida   8/29/2013 11:15:43 AM
Your points are well taken, simon. I get that.

To your question a: do we really need 6 versions of the Xperia?

Yes. Having worked at a CE company for a while, I do know that the name of the game for many CE venodrs -- until Apple came along -- for decades was to roll out as many variations as possible of essnetially the same product to meet different customers' tastes.

No respetable CE vendors just launched one model like Apple did with iPhone. They made insignificant tweaks for every product, gave different product number and sold it.

But things may be changing now...

 

 

SimonBarker
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Re: product brand and product number
SimonBarker   8/29/2013 11:19:07 AM
Given that many big name CE firms are not overly profitable (as a result of too wide, shallow product ranges I would argue) I think you're right, they will start to go down the Apple route - given how profitable they are with their current model.

rick merritt
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Re: product brand and product number
rick merritt   8/29/2013 11:27:02 AM
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Hilarius and too painfully true!

wilber_xbox
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Re: product brand and product number
wilber_xbox   8/29/2013 1:59:15 PM
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I really wonder about the different cofigurations of smartphone (for simplicity sake) can a company provide and on top of that we can rate them. If we love rating so much then why in the first place do we need so many configurations. We can just rate the preferences and based on that build products. I just do not get it.

DMcCunney
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CEO
Re: product brand and product number
DMcCunney   8/30/2013 5:01:27 PM
I do know that the name of the game for many CE vendors -- until Apple came along -- for decades was to roll out as many variations as possible of essnetially the same product to meet different customers' tastes.

The problem with that is that you compete with yourself.  Automobiles can be customized, and the buyer normally starts with a basic model and adds optional packages to get the car they want.  Consumer electronics is less likely to work that way.  If you have a range of different models, you must make your best guess on how many you think each will sell, and produce at least that many units of each model.  You will invariably be wrong in some of your guesses, and the particular model a customer buys is also another model the customer didn't buy.

My immediate referent here is Sony in the glory days of the PDA market.  How many different models of PDA did Sony produce in the Clie line?  I lost track.  And when Sony decided the PDA market wasn't profitable enough and corporate funds could be better allocated elsewhere, I wondered whether the proliferation of models, each with its own set of design and proiduction costs, was a contributing facter, because Sony couldn't sell enough of any particular model to see real returns.

Apple's notion of "make one model that satisfies 80% of the needs of 80% of the customers" has a lot to recommend it.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: product brand and product number
Caleb Kraft   8/29/2013 11:18:21 AM
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those aren't bad names. I mean I immediately know I could at least remember them! As I'm typing this I can't even remember the list Junko put out.

Kevin Neilson
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Sometimes is works
Kevin Neilson   8/29/2013 3:55:50 PM
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Sometimes it works.  Everyone knows what products these numbers represent:  the 911, 80286, Z80, 6502, and the 555.

SimonBarker
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Re: Sometimes is works
SimonBarker   8/30/2013 3:27:26 AM
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Everyone? Let me see if I'm right:

 

911: Emergency line, tragic date, Porsche

80266: no idea

Z80: A Nissan Car or Spectrum (which I had to Google anyway)?

6502: no idea

555: Nobile Kite Surfing Kite or as in the 555 timer? Hardly a consumer device and complex part numbers are fine for components

AZskibum
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CEO
Re: Sometimes is works
AZskibum   8/30/2013 4:20:03 AM
I'm not sure complex part numbers are even fine for components, at least as far as marketing and branding are concerned. Due to trademark issues, I think the best product names fall under the category of new words/names that never existed before, even if they have to start with an X or otherwise violate the usual rules of the English language.

In the engineering community, we sometimes think about this because the internal project name is often something very cool that one would assume the marketing guys might latch onto, but the end product usually ends up with some obscure alpha-numeric name that is difficult to remember, even by the designers who have lived & breathed the product for many months.

But I also think it is clever how Intel uses geographic location names for its internal product code names, and even succeeds to some degree in branding their products with those names -- Sandy Bridge, Bay Trail, etc. There are lots of cool names to choose from among the world's many locations.

Many famous components in our industry's history achieved brand recognition in spite of, not because of, their names -- 555, 714, 6502, 68000, 8086 and many, many more. But was it really in the best interests of sales and brand recognition to choose such names -- names that look like they were chosen by engineers, or maybe supply chain personnel?

 

SimonBarker
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Re: Sometimes is works
SimonBarker   8/30/2013 4:38:18 AM
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Good points - I suppose in reality there will always be a disconnect between the different departments in a company an when the dust settles it is obvious that no one was thinking about the customer and sales reps.

Making a name up is the way to go - we made up a word for our company simplt combining two words, radiator + fan = radfan - not very imaginative but it works

Peter Clarke
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Re: Sometimes it works
Peter Clarke   8/30/2013 5:00:27 AM
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Simon

 

80286...and the fact that you have no idea speaks to your youth

SimonBarker
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Re: Sometimes it works
SimonBarker   8/30/2013 5:05:53 AM
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Wikipedia (via Google) has come to my rescue - again, not a consumer product....

David Ashton
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Re: Sometimes it works
David Ashton   8/30/2013 5:14:29 AM
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You beat me to it Peter.  Anyone of my vintage knows these numbers, along with things like 2N3055 and, if you're English parts oriented, BC108.  And the 8080 would have been a better choice than 80286.  I stil have my 8080 databooks, and could probably tell you the numbers of most parts in that line and what they do.

I am sure there are folks around who can tell you which Microchip uC has 7K of flash, 4 ADC inputs and 2 I2C interfaces without looking them up, but I can't.  Life was simpler in the old days.... :-)

Peter Clarke
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Re: Sometimes it works
Peter Clarke   8/30/2013 5:31:50 AM
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I am also a great fan of the 6V6 rather than the 6L6 (valves/tubes).

But to defend Simon I think he was addressing product names for consumer electronics equipment rather than component identification for business-to-business sales.

It is perhaps more legitimate to treat electronic engineers as part of logistics machine when they may legitimately have to deal with many variants that, realistically, can only be differentiated by a numbering system.

 

 

Peter Clarke
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Re: Sometimes it works
Peter Clarke   8/30/2013 5:33:37 AM
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I am also a great fan of the 6V6 rather than the 6L6 (valves/tubes).

But to defend Simon I think he was addressing product names for consumer electronics equipment rather than component identification for business-to-business sales.

It is perhaps more legitimate to treat electronic engineers as part of logistics machine when they may legitimately have to deal with many variants that, realistically, can only be differentiated by a numbering system.

 

 

David Ashton
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Re: Sometimes it works
David Ashton   8/30/2013 6:34:27 AM
@Peter...  "I am also a great fan of the 6V6..."

Now you're taking me back...the good old EL34 / 84 for audio,, and the classic ECC83 dual triode...

But point taken, Simon started this on consumer electronics. It's the marketing guys, not the engineers, who come up with the names.  

I think maybe one of the reason's for Apple's success is that they stick to simple names.  Iphone 4 or maybe 4S.  But consumers themselves seem to like longer names and numbers - it's a status symbol.  I am reminded of an old Philips VCR advert:

Salesman: "Can I help you, sir?"

Yobbo customer: "Yes, I need a new VCR."

S: "Well, this is our new model, one touch recording, on-screen menus for time delay recording, automatic rewind...."

YC: "Naaah....hasn't got enough knobs on it.   What about this one?"

S: That's a washing machine....."

 

Frank Eory
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Re: Sometimes it works
Frank Eory   8/30/2013 1:07:51 PM
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"But to defend Simon I think he was addressing product names for consumer electronics equipment rather than component identification for business-to-business sales."

Branding isn't just for end products. Part numbers are of course necessary for many reasons, but they don't preclude the branding and marketing of a family of components, even though component sales are B2B rather than B2C. Consumer awareness of and loyalty to a brand -- even a component brand -- can drive those B2B sales. If anyone doesn't think that branding of a family of integrated circuits, for example, is beneficial, I would ask are you as a consumer familiar with names like Pentium, Core, GeForce and Radeon? For those who answered yes, I would then ask, do you know the part number of the GPU in your expensive graphics card, or the part number of the microprocessor on your motherboard?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Sometimes it works
Max The Magnificent   8/30/2013 12:37:50 PM
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@David: ...and, if you're English parts oriented, BC108...

Ah... music to my ears :-)

EVVJSK0
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Simply look at Startbucks, McDonalds, etc...
EVVJSK0   8/30/2013 12:26:09 PM
to see why this is a problem. Venti ? What the heck is a Venti in the U.S. or the other sizes for that matter ?

McDonalds has no Small drink. They have the smallest drink they have, but don't call it small.

When SIMPLE stuff is allowed to be complicated, then more complicated stuff just gets really screwed up !

cookiejar
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Names can also be confusing
cookiejar   8/30/2013 12:52:26 PM
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The problem with consumer electronics is that the products come and go obsolete at a fast and furious rate.  With hundreds of models per year a company would be hard pressed to come up with memorable names.  So just like the library book classification system, they turn to alpha-numeric codes which do follow logic, though not obvious to the average consumer.  In any case, alpha numeric codes are still applied to memorably named products just to keep track of revisions.

Windows 8 may be a memorable product name, but there are many versions from home versions on up.  Now there are also revised interface versions as well as touchscreen versions.  And don't forget all the different service packs and updates needed to fully identify your Windows as it sits this second just before it gets changed by updating again.  No way there could be a unique memorable product name for each.

I suppose they could follow the lead of drug companies, and invent words, but I doubt that would work.  No sooner would they come up with a memorable name and it would be obsolete.   Unless you are a company like Apple who wisely limits the number of products it produces, alpha-numeric product codes are the only way to go.  Can you imagine assigning unique memorable names to semiconductors or I.C.s? 

Peter Clarke
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Re: Names can also be confusing
Peter Clarke   8/30/2013 1:04:20 PM
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You mean like Pentium or Atom, or Bay Trail or CloverTrail or ....

 

Duane Benson
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Money helps
Duane Benson   8/30/2013 11:24:49 PM
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Some product names are stupid, some are really good. Then, some names are well promoted and some are not. There isn't any inherent overlap in those four descriptors. The amount of money spent promoting it can have a huge impact.

For example, what engineer doesn't know exactly what a 555 is? The name has charm, memory and emotion associated with it. Step outside of the engineering world, however, and it's meaningless. It's not the fact that it's a number that does it in outside of the engineering world. Back in the day, much of the non-technical world knew exactly what a 486 was and that it was better than a 386. Who amongst that same set could tell you the meaning of Sandy bridge, Longhorn or Conroe?

If it's well promoted, almost any name can become meaningful.

Charles.Desassure
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Bad Name, Good Product...
Charles.Desassure   8/31/2013 4:46:55 PM
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Yes, I agree, some product names are really bad.   Sometime a product with a bad name turns out to be one of the best products on the market.

WKetel
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The very worst product naming system
WKetel   9/7/2013 8:36:56 PM
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A few years back I dealt with a large company that produced a huge line of connectors. The catalog was about 2 inches thick. But for each different component they had both a part number and an order number, each with a lot of characters. And not a lot of ways to know if the pins would work in the housings you selected and would that housing mate with the other housing and would the sockets work with the pins. 

I never did order any of their products, instead I went to a distributers catalog and ordered "plugs and matching sockets" that were adequate for the application, although possibly more expensive.

That is an other gripe, which is catalogs that provide no hint of pricing. Even a highly qualified price, dated, and subjecct to change without notice, and assorted discounts, would be valuable. Are hose 3 cent pins or 2 dollar pins? That sort of info would be quite useful.



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