Why Apple Skipped The iPhone 9
In order to give a detailed explanation as to why Apple skipped the iPhone 9, we need to start off with a bit of iPhone history. Because while many people know about the iPhone X, most have been pronouncing its name wrong all these years. Although it is an X, Apple intended it to be pronounced as the roman numeral ten, rather than a letter of the alphabet. And this confusion is nothing new, when moving from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS 10, they also used the roman numeral ten in promotional materials. Which led to most people calling it Mac OS ‘ex’. Now they’ve since remedied that issue by changing the name of the Macintosh operating system to simply macOS. But they decided to reuse the roman numeral ten with the iPhone, and again this caused the same sort of pronunciation issues as with Mac OS X. This time, though, there was an extra layer of confusion with the iPhone. Mainly because Apple didn’t actually release the device in sequential order. There was the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and then an iPhone model with a letter in its name rather than a number. Something Apple has never done in the iPhone’s history. So I think it actually makes more sense to conclude that the ‘X’ symbol is pronounced ‘ex’ rather than ‘ten.’ Because why would there be an iPhone 10 if there was no iPhone 9, and why would Apple use a roman numeral to represent ten instead of the actual number like they’ve been doing with every other iPhone in history?
The issue was that Apple broke from the traditional iPhone naming scheme they’d been using for years. And it’s because Apple prioritizes appealing marketing over analytical reasoning. Why do they call the their set top box Apple TV? Even though people who hear that name for the first time assume it’s an actual television set made by Apple, rather than a box that connects to your existing TV. They still gave it that name since Apple TV sounds cool. And there are many examples of this like with the iPod or Apple Pencil, those names can either be misunderstood or misinterpreted since people don’t refer to music players as pods, or styluses as pencils. But despite this logical disconnect, Apple still uses those names. And thats exactly what happened with the iPhone 10.
By understanding the approach Apple takes to naming their products, it helps us understand why Apple was so eager to call their 2017 smartphone the iPhone 10, and skipping the number 9 completely. There was a significance to the 2017 iPhone release that no other model ever had. First, it was the device’s tenth anniversary, the original iPhone was released in 2007, and so Apple felt the need to commemorate the occasion in 2017. Second, the iPhone 10 represented a completely new era in the device’s history. It was the most radical change ever made to the iPhone, and it would also be accompanied by a radical new price point of $1,000. Up from the previous iPhone 7’s $650 price. It’s safe to say that the iPhone 10’s release was anything but a routine update and it was up to Apple to communicate the significance of the 2017 iPhone model’s release. Thats exactly why they broke from tradition and named it the iPhone 10, bypassing the number 9. It’s also why they used the roman numeral 10, even though Apple had never used a roman numeral for an iPhone before, and knowing it would likely be mispronounced ‘ex.’ But those things were all irrelevant. Does it really matter if people call it the iPhone ‘ex’ or the iPhone ‘ten?’ Either way it communicates the point that this iPhone is completely different than anything Apple has done before and is certainly not a routine update. Whereas calling it the iPhone 9 wouldn’t have been as effective in conveying that message.
Now even though Apple went from the iPhone 8, to the iPhone 10, and then 11, people still expected them to use the name iPhone 9 at some point. Which is why rumors of an iPhone 9 model circulated regularly near the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020. We knew Apple was working on a new budget iPhone but we were unsure of the name. Many people thought it would be a new iPhone SE since its rumored $400 price point would be the same as the SE model in 2016, but most people were referring to the budget model as the iPhone 9. So when it was actually revealed by Apple earlier this year, people were surprised that they named it iPhone SE. Suggesting that Apple should’ve filled the gap in the iPhone’s sequential history by calling it iPhone 9 instead. But those people failed to recognize what I described at the beginning of this video: The fact that Apple doesn’t restrict themselves to logical reasoning when naming products. They care much more about effective and appealing marketing, since that’s what sells products. Calling their new $400 budget smartphone the iPhone SE actually makes sense from a marketing perspective. Imagine the confusion over a newly released iPhone 9. First, it suggests that the model was released between the iPhone 8 and 10, which would already make it a three years old in the minds of customers. When in reality, it’s a new device. Second, Apple uses numbers for their more premium iPhone models. But the SE isn’t a premium device, it’s a budget model intended to appeal to a completely different market than the iPhone 8, 10, or 11.
And if you’re really bothered by Apple skipping the iPhone 9, I’m about to make you even more uncomfortable. Because that isn’t the only number Apple has skipped in the iPhone’s history. If you remember back to 2007, there was the original iPhone, and then the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4. There was never an iPhone 2, and technically there was never an iPhone 3 either, since the 3G name came from the device being enabled to run on carrier’s faster 3G networks. Apple didn’t adopt sequential numeric names for the iPhone until the 4. The fact that the third generation model was called the 3GS, was really just a coincidence.
Now we all know Apple didn’t back track and release an iPhone 2 just for the sake of filling that number gap, and the same will happen with the iPhone 9. It’ll just be another one of those interesting quirks in the iPhones history that’ll continue to be discussed and debated for years to come.