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"And I wanted to name the store iMario, because anything with a lowercase I has got to be technologically advanced."

Remember how we'd attach the letter E to everything? Good times. It stood for "electronic", so it could damn well apply to any new gadget at the time. Ancient history now...We've moved a vowel over.

The letter "i" can prefix anything and make it sound cool. People often have the misconception that only Apple does this with its line of electronic products, but nope - they weren't the first ones to flex their "i"s, and they're not the latest. Companies everywhere are cashing in on the iFad. So why "i"? Well, it likely began with the iMac, where it stood for "internet," because the iMac had a built-in modem and was designed mainly for web browsing. It also stood for "individual", as opposed to the Power Macintosh line of professional machines. It was later codified by the iPod, the most popular portable media player. The "individual" meaning has since spread to items and software where the "Internet" definition makes no sense, so more recently people seem to figure it's used like the pronoun. As in: "This phone is mine, bitch, back off!" or "Look at me! This is what I'm like!". Ah, the power behind lowercase letters.

See also Super Title 64 Advance for videogames, and Xtreme Kool Letterz for other letters that make things cool. In Speculative Fiction, this can be a sign that Everything Is an iPod In The Future.


iExamples:

  • As mentioned before, Apple. Chances are, if you have marketed and sold a product with this type of idea, you got the idea from Apple.
    • Some of their products include:
      • iMac
      • iBook (though Apple rebranded their notebook line as "Macbook" after switching to Intel processors in 2006)
      • iPod (this i meant individual; iTunes Store didn't arrive until later)
      • iPhone (justified in having been one of the few phones that can surf the Web effectively, at the time)
      • iTunes
      • and now the maxiPad
      • iCloud, an online file storage service
    • Before the iMac sparked the iCraze in 1998, Apple had an online service called eWorld (1994-1996).
      • eMac, but this "education Mac" doesn't really count as part of the eProduct fad.
  • Now there's a massage chair named the "iJoy". It doesn't seem to be related to Apple, though.
  • The "iMail" example refers to certain types of email applications made by Ipswitch Inc.
  • Nickelodeon's show ICarly. Hey, half the show involves the Internet.
  • The BBC's online radio/video player is named iPlayer.
  • iGoogle is a customizable home page for Google users.
  • There is a Facebook app called iLike that tracks your music-listening habits.
  • Nintendo broke all boundaries and put its i at the end to create the Nintendo D Si. In this case, the "i" refers to the system's cameras, which act as an "eye", while also reflecting the individuality of a handheld. Compare the Wii, whose name and two "i's" represent togetherness.
  • Brookstone, a U.S. retail chain for specialty electronics and some other things, has had a lot of these, the worst IMO being the "iDesire" massage chair. They seem to have branched out to uWords recently.
    • Would they be selling Osim products which include the iCare, iSnug, uPapa and uKimono?
  • iBuzz Vibrator, although it's been discontinued. Though apparently there's a two-vibrator version available now, and a Vibro Pod Digital Music Simulator... hmmmm. Wonder how many other versions are out there?
    • The iBuzz has been renamed to the OhMyBod.
  • iRobot (the makers of the Roomba) chose their name back in the mid 90s, long before this trope really got going. The name is of course a pun on the Isaac Asimov book I, Robot.
    • The movie I Robot with Will Smith featured a lower-case 'i' in its title in the movie poster, suggesting the iMac trope. The fact that Sonny and the other robots are composed of chrome metal and semi-translucent plastics and resemble walking Apple iMacs is not coincidental.
  • TrekStor makes the i.Beat line of MP 3 players. They caused a minor controversy when they brought out a black model -- and named it the i.Beat Blaxx.
    • Would that have been any better if it was called the i.Beat Box?
  • The video/photo-editing software company Ulead called one of its photo-cleanup programs iPhoto long before Apple started doing using this trend. In this case, the "i" did stand for the pronoun, as the message being launched was "a photo-cleaning so simple, even I can use it". When Apple started doing the iName stuff, they were dismayed to find that iPhoto was already taken, so they paid Ulead a significant amount of money to get Ulead to change the name of its product and sign over the rights to name future products.
  • A similar thing occurred with Cisco's IPhone, one of their IP office phones. Thing is, Apple didn't actually bother to check if anyone had already registered this name before they branded their own product, leading to a lawsuit. Ah, if they'd just called it the iPod Phone...
  • iGive and iSearchiGive
  • The Amiga browser IBrowse. Yes, it's a capital "I."
  • Kraft held a naming competition for a variation of Vegemite in Australia, the winner was iSnack 2.0. The backlash was so bad they dropped the name within a few days, held a new competition where the winner was selected by popular vote and now its called Cheesybite.
  • There's a brand of dog crates called iCrates. What does this have to do with the internet or technology? Uhhh....
  • iMeem, before My Space bought it.
  • This troper's college replaced the old IR multiple-choice remotes used in a few classes with snazzy new ones that use RF, which means there's no more having to point the remote at a couple of receivers. They're suspiciously Apple-white and called iClickers, even though they don't have anything to do with internet connectivity. They're fine for what they are, but the name is just irksome.
  • I Antivirus.
  • Introducing, the new KFC iTwist!
  • There's a New England-based party supply store named iParty.
  • Intel's current line of Core processors have specific models designated by i followed by a number (i3, i5, i7, etc).
  • There's a brand of iPod knock-offs called the iRiver. The only real advantage to having one is that it's (comparatively) cheap to buy. Other than that, it's slow, the sound quality is awful, and it's irritating as hell.
    • Actually iRiver MP 3 players predate the iPod (although they were originally CD based). Contrary to the above they are known for extremely high sound quality, but are let down by the stock headphones.
  • The japanese telecommunication company NTT Docomo had a cellphone Internet service which was also exported in some western countries called "i-mode".[1].
  • Australian telecommunications company iiNet seems determined to one-up everyone by adding two 'i's to everything. Their offerings include iiBroadband2, iiPhone, and iiNetPhone.
  • HP/Compaq had the iPAQ PD As in 2000


iParodies:

  • Dickensian parody Bleak Expectations mentions an "iWax" recorder. The cylinders can barely store a whole sentence, so it's quickly abandoned.
  • Parodied in FoxTrot with the iFruit.
    • FoxTrot also parodied it with the jPod pico.
  • The iRack (and iRan) provide a rather interesting Mad TV example.
    • After the introduction of Apple's most "Revolutionary and Magical Device" in 2010, this skit from several years earlier becomes Hilarious in Hindsight
  • Strong Bad from Homestar Runner considers adding an i to the front of his name to make him more modern, but remembers he tried it with the 'e' in the early 90s and it failed catastrophically.
    • "Which color iTem are you going to get?"
    • Lowercase "i"s seem to be a Running Gag on the site, in any context. Supposedly it began with the fact that the font used to write the name of Trodgor the "BURNINATOR" has an uppercase I that looks lowercase, and it took off from there.
  • Futurama has at least two instances of this: iZac, a robot version of Isaac from The Love Boat; and iHawk, a robot version of Hawkeye from MASH.
  • There are a lot of icons that parody the iPod commercials which have iTrope captions. This Livejournal community and this gallery are chock-full of 'em.
  • Witchblade Anime has iWeapons. Though in this case "i" stands not for "internet"...
  • The ISophagus was in Sluggy Freelance.
  • iHum is one of the many functions of a Dis-Organizer.
  • I AM A ROBOT PIRATE. YO-HO-HO AND A BOTTLE OF RAM! I wear an iPATCH.
  • Uncyclopedia has stuff like iRaq, iRan, the iRon, iBrows, iSuicide, iOwa, and the German-themed üPod.
  • When Top Gear made an electric car, Jeremy Clarkson insisted on putting an 'i' in the name. It was eventually christened the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust.
  • Lock Legion: Everyone Dies has the iHugeStereo.
  • One Attack of the Show sketch had Apple buying a state and founding their own country, Idaho iDaho.
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations, there is an airline called "iFly". Deadpan Snarker Edgeworth promptly comments on how troubling the overuse of this trope is in his Inner Monologue.
  • My Immortal has Vampire being described as wearing iShadow at one point.
  • Retail made fun of iThings creeping into everything. These must be iSweaters.
  • One of the commercials in the Starcraft II Terran campaign is for the "iPistol".
  • Back in the late 1970s when "z" was the cool letter, Apple's Steve "The Woz" Wozniak distributed fake ads at the First West Coast Computer Faire for Altair's upcoming "Zaltair 8080" computer, featuring the new bazic programming language, verZatility I/O, and perZonality customization.

Notes

  1. unfortunately no longer available
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