If there’s one thing I think you should take away from Apple’s new naming conventions with the iPad, it’s this: It doesn’t matter what generation of an Apple product you have anymore.
When was the last time someone asked you what generation iPod Touch you have? Probably not since 2008, and there’s a reason for it. Apple doesn’t want you to care about which generation of a product you have, but rather about which version of the product you have.
You either have a Shuffle, a Nano, a Classic or a Touch. Naming around generations of products the way Apple has been doing with the iPad and iPhone makes older products seem obsolete, and discourages consumers from buying. Now that we know Apple is coming out with a smaller iPad called ‘iPad Mini’, I fully expect to see Apple apply this naming style across its product portfolio.
I expect the next iPhone to simply be called "iPhone" – just like the new iPad. I also expect to see new iPad products in the future, like an "iPad XL" or an "iPad Surface." Apple knows that the future is just going to be about the size of the screen you’re using, and what it enables you to do.
What remains to be seen is how Macbook fits in with all of this. It’s the only product that breaks ranks with these naming conventions, because it’s the original. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the name "Macbook" disappear soon and be replaced with "iMac." The new line of iMacs could function like a Mac mini, but be the size and shape of the iPad and iPad mini, and attach to them for laptop-like functionality. That would certainly open up a new market for Apple accessories.
Eventually, Apple will likely consolidate product lines. Each will probably have 3-5 products within them based on size and functionality. The names will be simple, the platforms will be integrated, and the experience will be seamless. That’s what I believe "iPad Mini" means.
David Trahan is a Verbal Identity Consultant for Interbrand.