Tag Archives: Software

Smartphones Unlocked: How cell phones get their names (column)

Welcome to Smartphones Unlocked, my new monthly column designed to explain the ins and outs of smartphones to help you better understand how they work. The world of smartphones is fast-paced and can sometimes be confusing and difficult to keep track of all the new technology in these devices, particularly if you’re new to them, so if there are any topics you’d like to see covered here, please feel free to e-mail me at bonnie.cha@cnet.com.

Last month, my colleague Jessica Dolcourt wrote a great two-part series on how cell phones are born, along with some behind-the-scenes confessions from the handset designers. The articles provided a great insider’s look at the cell phone design business, but there’s another part that’s always intrigued: how do cell phones and smartphones get their names?

In my seven years of reviewing phones, I’ve come across some great names and some that have come from the department of “What were they thinking?” Samsung has had its fair share of both, so for this month’s column, I reached out to the handset manufacturer to shed some light on the subject. What follows is a QA session with Paul Golden, vice president of strategic marketing for Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile).

Golden, whose responsibilities include coming up with brand and marketing strategy for new product launches, advertising, media, consumer and in-store promotions, walked me through how the company names its cell phones and smartphones. As I’ve learned since starting this column, the process is much more involved than I thought, so read on to see what’s in a (cell phone) name.

Question: When do you begin the process of coming up with a name for a phone? Is it during the development process? Once a phone is complete? Somewhere in between?

Golden: As you might imagine, the product naming process and protocol is not the same for every phone Samsung manufactures. I can tell you that on average, the product naming process takes about five to seven weeks to complete, starting with the initial idea brainstorm and reaching completion once our team and our respective carrier partner for that device give their final approval.

Samsung Messager

Samsung Messager Touch

Josh Miller/CNET)

How do you come up with them? What influences the decision?

Golden: We develop a positioning statement for each product that articulates the consumer benefit and key support features. The positioning statement will act as a guideline to define the best product name.

How difficult is it coming up with a name? What challenges are there?

Golden: It is definitely a challenge to match the right name with the right product. First, we have to make sure that the product name is not already taken by a competitor or a very similar version of that product name. It can also be difficult to find a product name that has a balance between being memorable and descriptive, while also being relevant, quickly understood, and recognizable to consumers.

How long does the process take? What are the different stages and who gives the final approval?

Golden: There are typically six stages that a product will go through over a five- to seven-week period before its final name is selected and confirmed. The first phase is creative development where hundreds of names are provided from an extended brainstorm period. In the second phase, we take those potential product names to a legal pre-screen to determine possible conflicts with current or future products from our competitors and make significant cuts to the initial list.

The third stage involves taking a list of about 10 to 20 leading product name candidates to our carrier partners to get their impressions. The fourth stage moves those 10 to 20 product names into a full legal search for any conflicts or potential liabilities and risks. From there, the list is whittled down to the fifth phase, which is an even shorter list of product names that are submitted to our legal team to ensure the remaining options are defensible and legally protected.

In the sixth and final phase, one product name emerges as the selected go-to market name, complete with the legal research findings and all of that information shared with the carrier for confirmation.

Do you have a team or is there a dedicated person whose job it is to come up with names?

Golden: Samsung does have a dedicated individual whose chief responsibility is to manage the product name process through the six phases, including the feedback from our legal team and the product naming/branding counterparts at each carrier Samsung works with. It’s important to note that iconic devices, such as the Galaxy S, receive more product naming attention and research and go through a more in-depth approval process with our senior executives.

Are focus groups ever involved?

Golden: Focus groups are generally not used, but we do conduct market testing research with consumers to help identify which product attributes and features would likely resonate the strongest when people are shopping for a new phone. Our ultimate goals in naming a product are driving Samsung’s business and building an emotional and loyal connection with consumers.

Samsung Droid Charge

Samsung Droid Charge

Sarah Tew/CNET)

What part do the carriers play in the naming process?

Golden: Some carriers do own product names that evolve into specific brands across multiple manufacturers, such as Verizon and its Droid brand. But more often than not, Samsung conducts the product naming process for our phones and accessories and own the intellectual rights to that product name and potential future generations of products that share all or part of a older product name.

How much influence do the OEM’s have? Can you tell the carrier that you want a phone to keep its original name/branding (e.g., Samsung Galaxy S II) or if you don’t agree with a name, can you push back?

Golden: Naming a product is definitely a collaborative process between Samsung and our carrier partners. Let’s face it, if the carrier is a big fan of a product name that we choose to bring to market, the better our overall synergy will be with the carrier in marketing, launching and promoting the product both in advance and after retail availability begins.

How different is the naming process for the U.S. and other parts of the world? When do you change the name of the same phone for different countries?

Golden: Many of the phones that we sell in the U.S. are unique to the U.S. market. In those cases the names will also be unique. For global devices, our preference is to use common naming as much as possible in order to leverage global media. In today’s media world, there are no real borders so consumers get exposed to online and social media that we do globally as well as in the U.S. The more consistent we can be in our naming globally, the better. In some cases, we may have different strategies for product branding in the U.S. than other parts of the globe.

Does Samsung check a proposed name to see what cultural or religious meanings it has in other countries or societies?

Golden: Being a global company, Samsung and our legal counsel are very sensitive and careful to avoid introducing product names that could offend consumers here in the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. That is one of the reasons that our product naming process goes through multiple waves of legal reviews. Our legal agency checks names against other languages (always Korean) to ensure there are no potential hidden meanings. The Samsung HQ intellectual property team also will ask the meaning of a name if it is a coined name, such as APTOS, which combines apt and operating system.

What are some of the legal issues you have to deal with with coming up with names?

Golden: Aside from the obvious problems associated with launching a product name that is the same as a competitor, we also have to be aware of product names that could unintentionally mislead consumers into thinking that our phone or
tablet has a specific feature or capability that it does not actually possess. Also, the mobile phone product industry is growing with more manufacturers and products every day. More products in the telecom industry creates a smaller number of original product names for Samsung and our competitors to choose from.

Once you come up with a unique name, is that exclusive to Samsung? Do you own it or can other companies use them?

Golden: Once a product name is registered as Samsung’s intellectual property, our rights typically extend to exclusivity among the consumer technology industry. However, other consumer product industries, from
cars to food or airlines all have the ability to use a name of one of our products, as long as their legal counsel can prove there is minimal to no chance that a consumer will confuse our product with the product from a completely unrelated industry.

Why do you use the model number for some devices?

Golden: We still use numbers on some entry-level feature phones where consumers are looking more for economy and basic functionality.

Samsung BlackJack II

Samsung BlackJack II

Corinne Schulze/CNET)

Any names that have been favorites among customers, as well as within Samsung? Least favorite?

Golden: The Samsung BlackJack and its successors, the BlackJack II and the Jack, both seemed to resonate with consumers. More recently, our Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab portfolio of products have been very successful in branding Samsung as a provider of premium, durable, and powerful smartphones and mobile tablets. Out of fairness to our naming team and to keep me out of trouble, I should probably plead the Fifth on the least favorite product name.

Any fun brainstorming sessions or war stories you’d like to share?

Golden: Again, probably in my best interest to keep quiet on that question to keep myself out of trouble.

Finally, I have to ask about the Samsung 🙂 (Smiley) and Messager. The use of an emoticon is novel, but got a bit of ribbing in the press. And Messager isn’t technically a word. Can you share how these two names came about and provide some thoughts on some of the criticism?

Golden: For Smiley, I can confirm that T-Mobile owned the rights to that product name, so their marketing team would be the best place to start. In this case, the carrier had a very strong interest in the name.

On the Messager, you are correct that its not a proper word in the technical sense, but it Messager did a great job of conveying its primary use case in a very straight-forward way. The Messager had a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard and was marketed to teenage/young adults as a phone that was great for text messaging.

Article source: http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-20101134-85/smartphones-unlocked-how-cell-phones-get-their-names-column/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Deutsche Telekom accepting iPhone 5 reservations

The line-up for the iPhone 3GS in 2009.

The line-up for the iPhone 3GS in 2009.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

Deutsche Telekom is already giving customers a way to reserve Apple’s next
iPhone ahead of it having actually been announced, according to multiple reports.

Bloomberg reports that the European carrier is handing out coupons for the device to customers who ask for it without actually calling the device the
iPhone 5. A company spokesperson told the outlet the move is based on expectations of the phone being hard to get once it’s released.

A follow-up report by German language news site Focus.de (as picked up by AppleInsider) notes that this pre-ordering process is being intentionally kept low profile, with no mention of it in advertising or its online store. Instead, customers will need to go into the carrier’s retail stores and request a reservation for the device.

Deutsche Telekom did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the program.

Apple and its carrier partners received more than 600,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4 last year, resulting in a number of hiccups for those trying to reserve the device for purchase on its first day of availability. Apple then had trouble keeping up with demand, with new orders taking weeks to ship out to new buyers and causing customer lineups at Apple’s retail stores and carriers that were selling the device.

Deutsche Telekom became the second European sales partner for Apple following the launch of the original iPhone in 2007. The two companies proceeded to launch the handset on Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile network in early November.

Apple’s next iPhone is expected to be released in October, marking a departure from the company’s longstanding tradition of a summer release. The timing also coincides with when Apple typically holds its annual event to spruce up its lineup of iPods and The Apple TV.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20101702-248/deutsche-telekom-accepting-iphone-5-reservations/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

iPhone 5 launch date: Battle of the Best Buy leaks

When is Apples follow-up to the iPhone 4 launching? The answer--well, one anyway--seems to depend on which Best Buy leak you consult.

When is Apple’s follow-up to the iPhone 4 launching? The answer–well, one anyway–seems to depend on which Best Buy leak you consult.


Depending on which of today’s Best Buy-related
iPhone 5 reports you want to give the most credence to, the highly anticipated gadget could launch during the first week of October, or a bit later, on October 21st.

Boy Genius Report’s Jonathan Geller says a tipster handed the blog a leaked Best Buy document labeled “Promotional activity” and carrying a subheading of “Week 9/4.”

The document, real or otherwise, says, “iPhone 5 product introduction expected, pre-sales begin for expected week 1 launch / Sprint launches
iPhone 5.” It also says “(Apple product information/Launch dates subject to change).”

On the other hand, This Is My Next’s Chris Ziegler reports that TIMN received a tip about a mysterious “Apple fixture” that’s scheduled to be installed at an unnamed Best Buy location October 21. The site displays a screenshot that shows what may or may not be an authentic online Best Buy “National Retail Calendar.”

“Process Display or Granger will be installing an Apple fixture on the large C2 end displays. Please ensure a manager/key carrier is available at 6:00 am for access to the store,” the retail calendar says, in a rather cloak-and-dagger fashion. This Is My Next says its tipster called the 6 am show-up time unusual–managers usually don’t have to arrive till an hour later. The tipster also reported an October 10 meeting to “discuss BIG release dates.”

As Ziegler points out, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Sprint Nextel will begin selling the iPhone 5 in mid-October. Other reports, though, have set the date as earlier in the month.

And, of course, my colleagues Declan McCullagh and Greg Sandoval recently broke the news that another unreleased iPhone prototype had apparently recharged itself a little two energetically while at a bar and had gone missing. (You’ll recall, I’m sure, that it’s not the first time such a thing has happened.) McCullagh and Sandoval also note that the file name of a San Francisco Police Department document seems to peg the prototype as the iPhone 5 and that Apple is taking unusual steps to get the gadget back.

All of this might mean the launch of a Sprint-friendly iPhone 5 is nigh. But we’ll just have to wait a still-uncertain amount of time to find out.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-20101545-37/iphone-5-launch-date-battle-of-the-best-buy-leaks/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Boxee Box price drops to $180

Sarah Tew/CNET)

The Boxee Box has always seemed overpriced at $200, but D-Link is about to make it slightly more palatable. Effective September 4, D-Link is dropping the price of the Boxee Box to $180, down from $200.

Pricing was definitely one of our major hangups when the Boxee Box was first released, and Boxee has also made some strides to fill in its content gaps, now supporting Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and MLB.TV. (Still no update on when Hulu Plus support is coming.) We’ll be re-reviewing the Boxee Box this month in light of all the changes that have been made this year.

While the new $180 price helps, the Boxee Box still has an uphill fight against more affordable rivals like the Roku 2 or Apple TV. Boxee’s big advantage has always been superior support for a wide range of different file types, but that won’t be enough to transcend its enthusiast-only appeal.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20101015-1/boxee-box-price-drops-to-$180/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Five devices to make your folks techno-comfy

The Apple iPad is manageable and intuitive, making it one of the favorite tech devices for senior citizens.


The following statement will not qualify as the biggest news scoop ever published on CNET: Older folks are often uncomfortable with modern technology and gadgets.

It’s too easy to look at the senior citizens around you and roll your eyes at their techno-hostility or seeming incompetence when it comes to using gadgets or adjusting to a world seemingly ruled more by gadgets every day. But, that’s unfair when you consider the ever-increasing speed of gadget evolution we see now and how hard it is to keep up if you weren’t born into the techno stream.

To give you a simple example of what your senior friends are up against, what we understand as the motor
car (four wheels, internal combustion engine, etc.) emerged into public view around 1888 and was destined to change the world. But, the first successful mass-produced assembly line car in the U.S. (the Model T) didn’t come along until about 20 years later. So, that’s about two decades for folks to get used to the idea of motorized transport.

Comparatively, the
iPhone–the first big salvo in the age of elite touch-screen smartphones that changed how we communicate, work, and socialize–was released in 2007. In just four years, we’ve had to get caught up on the concepts of the App Store, FaceTime, airplane mode, and Angry Birds.

So, why not nudge our silver-haired friends in getting up to speed by introducing them to gadgets that are easier–even fun–to use? While these five items are not intended as the only possible contenders, they were evaluated for ease of use, reliability, and a sort of general friendliness that will help encourage older users to pick up other gadgets not mentioned here. In no particular order:


? Cobra PhoneLynx: For those older users who might not be thrilled by the world of cell phones, the PhoneLynx connects a cell phone to any traditional landline phone.

It “lets you make and receive cell phone calls on any phone in a home or small office using Bluetooth wireless technology” and pairing your cell phone to your home phone. It allows users to have a cell as their only phone while keeping that big button, touch-tone home phone operational. Cost: $39.99.

? The Zomm: This tiny key chain device resembles a flying saucer, but it prevents the owner from flying away without their cell phone. After pairing with a smartphone, if the user and his or her keys get 20 to 40 feet (owner’s choice) from the phone, the Zomm sounds an alarm, reminding the forgetful would-be caller to take the cell phone along.


It also fills in as a one-touch speaker phone and (in case of emergency) can send an alarm tone to local authorities–a la that old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…” gizmo.

Finally, with its MyZomm feature, the user will never lose his or her keys again as the Zomm Web site can track down any Zomm in use. So, no senior moment will cost the owner a set of keys. Cost: $89.99.

? Archos 3s Home Connect: Anything with a big, friendly touch screen can help older users settle in to your crazy hyper-tech world. Fortunately, the
Android-powered Archos 3s has the interface down pat with big, easy to read icons.


Essentially, a high-tech clock radio, the Archos 3s, with its 3.5-inch touch screen, serves up more than 50,000 Web radio stations and an Archos app offering weather, traffic, and news personalized for use. The Archos is a good idea to introduce older folks to Internet radio because it’s a good bet they already know how to use a clock radio. This just ups the ante a bit. Cost: $75.

? SuperTooth: Most new cars in showrooms these days have an in-car speakerphone that pairs up with the driver’s device. But, an older gadget user might have an older car. Fortunately, the SuperTooth puts full speakerphone capability into any car.


The SuperTooth also allows the user to compose text messages and e-mails from the driver’s seat using voice commands, but you might want to keep that feature to yourself. We’re looking to keep all of this user-friendly and accessible. Cost: $45.

? The iPad: What can I say about the iPad that would be new or ground-shaking? Nothing. It’s massively popular because it works. But, it’s also proved very popular with seniors because of its intuitive, user-friendly interface, manageable size, and massively flexible list of functions.

When it came time for me to buy my 67-year-old mother a computer to send brag e-mails about her grandchildren, I snagged her an iPad. She loves it. That’s hardly the most scientific proof of the iPad’s effectiveness with older users, but I guess it’s the only proof I care about, personally. Cost: starts at $499.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20097067-1/five-devices-to-make-your-folks-techno-comfy/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

This week in Crave: The head-mounted edition

Too busy griping about rumored changes to the original trilogy in the Star Wars Blu-ray collection to keep up with Crave this week? Here’s what you missed while you were cursing George Lucas.

Sony’s 3D OLED head-mounted display: Tron-esque backdrops not included.


? Jeff and Scott tackled Madden 12.

? Sony’s 3D OLED head-mounted display not for the weak-necked.

? Showdown: Apple TV vs. Roku 2.

? Sketchers got an Inkling of the future.

? Physicist confirms nonphysicists’ observation that plane boarding sucks.

? Being HP’s social-media manager: Not so fun this week.

? Insults fly during chatbot-to-chatbot chat.

? Even cremation’s getting greener these days.

? You won’t care about Vance Hines–unless you’re into speed, world records, and elite precision engineering.

? Poll: ATT + T-Mobile = what, in your view?

? Two words: Donald and Eric (OK, that’s three):

Got something you want to tell us? Write to us at crave at cnet dot com. And be sure to follow us on Twitter at @crave.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20101154-1/this-week-in-crave-the-head-mounted-edition/?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave