The i moniker has been the common theme in the names of most products that Apple offers. They have iPod, iPhone,iPad, and iMac and services like iTunes, and iMovie. And they’ve all been successful, highly recognizable, and associated with Apple as a brand. So it’s unusual that Apple broke their usual naming convention and called their smartwatch Apple Watch instead of calling it iWatch.
So why’s that?
It is because of Trademarking and the legal issues that followed it. Let’s say my website becomes super popular in the future, and I intended to launch my own apparel line. But seeing my popularity growth, someone registered my website name as a trademark under their name. This meant I can’t use that name legally, and if I do, the trademark owner can file a lawsuit against me on the grounds of copyright infringement.
This is essentially what happened to Apple. The trademark for iWatch was already registered and owned by OMG Electronics in US and Probendi in the EU. Apple filed for the iWatch trademark in the UK but was rejected because Swatch, a prominent watch company, already had a product line named iSwatch and it objected to the trademark. And iWatch has been a registered trademark in many countries across the world held by different entities.
Most importantly, many companies are registering these trademark names with ‘i’ moniker, so that when Apple launches a product with that name, they can profit in millions by selling the trademark to Apple or suing them. For example, I can register the iCar trademark, and sit tight until apple makes a car. Apple had to pay $60M to Proview, as the iPad trademark was owned by them in China.
So Apple, at one point, even tried to get trademark for the letter ‘i’, but it was rejected as its not plausible to get a trademark on a single letter.
Apple’s TV offering was initially called iTV, but there’s a tv media company with the same name in the U.K. So they had to change the name to Apple TV.
Since Apple already owns the trademark for their company name, they just decided to use it in their product/service names to avoid the hassle. Hence the name of the Apple Watch.