Why can’t consumer electronics companies learn how to name their products?

I just played with the Phillips HDD6630 that a co-worker got recently. Damn, that thing is cool. I want one.

Well, I’m going to wait. I’ve been burned many many times by MP3 players. I’m currently on my fourth, having gone through the Rio S30 (died), two Rio Forges (both died), a Creative MuVo Micro N200 (gym player), and an iRiver H10 (general HD player). Each one of them has flaws, that maybe — if I’m bored — I’ll go over in detail, but all of them suffer from the same basic flaws.

First — for the most part, they have lame names. The better they are… the lamer the name. For example… the iRiver H10? What the heck is an H10? Why does the person on the street want an H10? Or an HDD6630 for that matter? The other day, I hear about a new Samsung phone to compete with the Motorola RAZR — what’s it called? The MM-A900. Yeah, I can just see the lines forming to buy that one.

What I want to know is why can’t people learn? Consumer devices need short, snappy names:

Sorry, couldn’t resist the last one.  Just making the point that this isn’t limited to consumer electronics companies — though I still maintain that CE companies need snappy names more than software companies do.

The real question is why companies don’t come up with snappy names.

   Reason #1: It’s hard. Coming up with good names is increasingly difficult, especially since everyone is doing it.

   Reason #2: It’s expensive. Making a new name part of the common vocabulary is expensive in marketing terms unless you’re very lucky.

Number 2 leads to marketing people wanting to “accrue value” to an existing brand. So, the Phillips HDD6630 is relying on the Phillips brand — which presumably has some level of presence among consumers — instead of trying to develop a new brand. There’s some value in that, but sometimes it goes to far.

I think there’s also a level of risk management that goes into it. Rio, for example has developed several sub-brands: Forge, Karma, Cali, Nitrus, Chiba. Each of these fills some niche — the side-effect is that none of these sub-brands ever gains the level of presence of say, iPod. I consider this risk-management because they can dump a brand whenever they want (cf. Rio Fuse, or RioVolt).

Anyway, that’s the end of my little rant. Next time, I’ll rant about user interfaces and PC integration nightmares. But maybe I won’t — you can just Google it. Er, I mean, you can Windows-Live-Search it (and if you don’t see the irony there, you haven’t been paying attention).