Brand Power’s Effect on Software Design

A good friend of mine once referred to their smartphone as an iPhone even if it was an Android phone. When I pointed out the “mistake”, this was the reply: ‘Don’t be so pedantic’.

It’s not that the person is stupid – far from it – or didn’t know what kind of phone they owned. It was just their way of referring to this new type of phone with the fancy, animated buttons, a ‘large’ screen and computer like behaviour (and so complicated that even Bjarne Stroustrup finds it too much – allegedly).

I guess there is nothing new here – the Danish word for ‘instant coffee’ is ‘Nescafe’. The French fought hard to regain ‘Champagne‘ (and leaving the Australians with the word ‘sparkling wine’), and similar for the Greeks who beat the Danes over the word ‘Feta‘. But as a consumer, it doesn’t really matter, even if the producers don’t like the association.

This is unfortunate not always the case for software products, as the strength of a brand can adversely impact our own choices.

A lot people still cannot associate a desktop or laptop with anything other than Windows. I like to read the odd article at, but the comments section mandates a login to Facebook. For software, a strong brand can actually dramatically reduce our choice – e.g., equating a web login account to Facebook or smartphone to iPhone would not be a good thing. I, for one, would like to live in a world with more than Windows, Facebook and iPhones…

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