There are one too many "Ones" in this business

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: January 29, 2014


The name of a smartphone seems like such a minor detail considering everything that actually makes up a good phone these days. More important things like screen size, processing power, battery life, memory allotments, and camera probably take precendence in most people's minds over something so small and trivial like a device's name. All things considered, however, no matter how trivial the actual name of the device is, the name itself is what people will be talking about when they want to discuss a phone. That's why it's important to come up with a name that sounds good and stands out in order for people to associate that (hopefully good) device with a certain brand.

Take the iPhone for example. What do we associate with the iPhone? Probably a lot of things for a lot of different people, but at the end of the day almost everybody knows by now that the iPhone comes from Apple. It's always the Apple iPhone; never the Samsung iPhone or the Sony iPhone. I have never in my entire career have somebody mistaken the fact that the iPhone is made by Apple. Or what about the Galaxy devices? There's a lot of them, sure. You have the Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Mega, the Galaxy S, the Galaxy S Mini; there's a lot. But in the end we can always assume that with a device that uses "Galaxy" in its name, the word "Samsung" will be right in front of it.

Then we get to HTC. I have had an on-and-off relationship with HTC. It first started off great with the HTC EVO 4G. The EVO line was a pretty recognizable line in itself, and the EVO name was unique enough to where you pretty much wouldn't ever get it confused with any other brand of smartphones. But then sometime in 2012 they unveiled their first device in the HTC One series, which was ironically not the HTC One, but the HTC One X. From there, the One series, if you ask me, was nothing but the start of a jumbled mess of too many "Ones". 

HTC's first mistake was naming their series after a numeric measurement, along with identifying the different devices in the series with single letters and/or symbols (One X, One S, One X+, One V, One SV, One VX, One XL). Talk about confusing. But the biggest issue there is naming their series after something as simple as the number one. HTC is not the only one to adopt the word "One" in the industry, as it turns out. Just recently, CyanogenMod paired up with company OnePlus to announce their plans to create the OnePlus One, a device which I thought at first glance was a rumor for the new 2014 flagship follow-up to HTC's 2013 flagship, the HTC One. Once I read past the title of the article, I realized that it wasn't the case. I then thought that this OnePlus One device was either bad news for this OnePlus company, or it could end up being bad news for HTC, who is already treading on thin ice when it comes to earning profits. 

At this point, I would hope that HTC would put forth the effort to change their brand name to something more memorable (or at least less confusing) and push away from the series that seemed to have gotten them into trouble in the first place. On the other hand, I feel like HTC might have missed that train. They should have named their one flagship device last year something different in order to truly break away from the One series; it might be too late now given the amount of coverage the One received last year.

The OnePlus One isn't the only device that HTC will have to compete with for association of the word "One"; you also have other devices and services in the tech industry that also want people to associate with being the "One", like the Xbox One from Microsoft, who also recently renamed their cloud storage services from SkyDrive to OneDrive in further attempt for people to associate the word "One" with Microsoft products.

I get the appeal for companies to name their gadgets "One"; one is a powerful number. We associate the number one with being more significant than any other number, because it is the only. There is no sharing with something that is "one", at least normally. Clearly that is not the case here. I just think that any company from here on out that is considering using the word "One" to name their product should really rethink things and consider coming up with a more unique name that will not only convey a more clearer image of the product to a person, but will also likely provide better search results when people do hear about and become curious about their product.

Tl;dr There can only be one One, but there are too many Ones so now people are confused on which One is the One they're looking for. Stop naming things One.

Products mentioned