What Does The ‘i’ In iPhone Stand For?

People are just only just finding out what the 'i' in iPhone stands for.
Credit: Alamy

People are just only just finding out what the ‘i’ in iPhone actually stands for.

The global technology company is arguably one of the biggest brands in the world.

Its products are instantly recognisable and whatever your view is on the ‘Apple vs Android’ debate, you can’t dispute how successful Apple is.

Yet, there is one big mystery that surrounds the company that not everyone knows… What does the ‘i’ in iPhone actually stand for?

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A number of Apple’s products have begun with ‘i’, such as the iPod, iPad and even the iTunes store.

Over the years, many people have tried to guess what it stands for, with one person taking to X (formerly known as Twitter) and guessing: “Internet phone.”

Someone else thinks: “Apple or my eye (I). Hence iMac, iPad, iPod, iPhone.”

“Innovation,” suggests a third person.

While another user adds: “To me, the ‘I’ stands for intelligent. So it is ‘Intelligent Phone’.”

“Indispensable,” comments somebody else.

So are any of these correct? Well, yes – because according to Steve Jobs, the ‘i’ has five different meanings.

Apple iPhone
The ‘i’ stands for five different things. Credit: Alamy

Jobs certainly liked to break the mould in what he did – whether this be his Apple innovations or his interview technique.

You’d think the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world would put employees through a series of tough, rigorous interviews to find the best of the best.

So you’d be surprised to find out that he actually judged potential hires over a beer as he felt this was the best way to get to know them on a personal level.

Every time the Apple founder ever considered hiring someone he always asked himself: “Would I have a beer with this person? Would I talk to him or her in a relaxed way while taking a walk?”

This idea would lead to how he conducted his interviews as he would invite them for a walk and a beer as he felt that this would loosen them up and they would be more likely to open up about their personal lives.

He would ask them questions such as ‘What did you do last summer?’, or ‘When was the last time you accomplished something?’, just to get to know the candidate better.

There were no right or wrong answers, but that was where Jobs’ decision to hire them or not came from.

And this sort of offbeat managerial technique also influenced the way Jobs named his products.

As it turns out, the ‘i’ in iPhone doesn’t really stand for anything at all!

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According to Readers Digest, Jobs established that in 1998 when the iMac was introduced, it was believed that it originally stood for ‘Internet’.

But when the Apple co-founder presented the product on stage, he displayed it with five different meanings – which are ‘internet’, ‘individual’, ‘instruct’, ‘inform’, and ‘inspire’.

However, he also mysteriously alluded that the ‘i’ could possibly mean a ‘personal pronoun’ and ‘instruction’ for education purposes.

So while he did present five words that the ‘i’ could stand for, it seems that it is largely open to interpretation.

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.