What’s in a name? Everything and nothing, depending.

I plan to start my e3 blogging soon, with posts ahead and after of our briefing tomorrow. But I wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to the marketing team that chose the final name for what was formerly known as Project Natal. 

Much will be made of the unveiling of Project Natal as Kinect this evening.  People will either like it or dislike it, proclaim it to be an inspired choice or a mistake that will doom the product to failure. 

It’s interesting to me how much is put into a technology’s name.  I, like many others, decried Nintendo naming their new console the Wii.  And yet look at how many units it’s sold.  The trick is in the magic of the experience. I’ve always been a cynic when it comes to product names.  So few really motivate me or connect with me.  I think it’s mainly because I’m a person who already spends a lot of time using words, it’s hard to come up with brands or collections of these interesting things called letters to pierce through that for me. People who don’t really know anything about me or read this blog will assume that I am somehow required to say the following due to working for Xbox, but I’m not:

I really like the name Kinect. 

Evoking both “Kinetic” and “Connection”, it embodies so much of what the technology achieves when you actually use it. Sure, it’s a made up word, and others have used it (try and find any pronounceable combination of six letters using he english alphabet that the Internet hasn’t combined). But I like that it isn’t something more common or mundane. The experience of using Kinect is deserving of its own descriptor.

It’s really hard when you have a cool “code name” that lasts for so long to replace it with its true name, a name that it really deserves to communicate why it’s desirable.  Code names are meant to be cool, as code names.  True product and technology names are far more difficult. Marketing people get a really bad rap when they face a challenge like that and there’s often a lot of eye rolling and “what were they thinking” that goes on. Coming up with these things is a high wire act with no net.

Critics always shit all over the marketing people who choose names they don’t like, and when they really nail it, rarely give them the honors they deserve.

So congratulations to the marketing folks in our group.  Kinect is a perfect name for this technology, you nailed it. And I simply cannot wait for everyone to be able to use it.

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