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Should "Apple" Be a Verb?

by Brian Prentice  |  December 23, 2008  |  4 Comments

Recently I sat down with some senior IT leaders at one of our clients in Melbourne Australia when the topic of discussion, fortuitously, turned to the growing importance of design in IT. It turned out to that they were being called into a meeting that afternoon with their CFO to discuss how the IT department could act “more like Apple.”

That got me thinking. Google has reached the pinnacle of brand consciousness. It’s not just a proper noun anymore – it’s a verb. “To google” has become a way to describe any effort in using the Internet to answer a question.

So why not turn “Apple” into a verb? Here’s my recommendation to the people over at Webster:

apple – verb: an activity intended to foster a positive emotional connection between an individual and a specific information technology device, solution or service.

Not that I want to aggrandize Apple here. In fact I’d rather turn Apple into a generic term. Kind of like aspirin is to pain relief or cola is to soft drinks. Why? Because in face of overwhelming evidence from the market on what is driving technology adoption, I don’t think having a healthy obsession over the emotional connection people have with technology is something that enterprise IT organizations can avoid any longer. Maybe creating a new verb can help cement the idea that this type of behaviour is fast becoming an imperative to any individual or organization tasked with the responsibility to deliver technology to “users.”

Still need a New Year’s resolution? How about making 2009 the year you’ll start appleing your IT organization.

Category: feature-itis-the-design-imperative  

Brian Prentice
Research VP
9 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Brian Prentice is a research vice president and focuses on emerging technologies and trends with an emphasis on those that impact an organization's software and application strategy... Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Should "Apple" Be a Verb?


  1. Nick Jones says:

    Given that large organisations like Apple are very defensive about creative use of their name or brand people could end up in court over this one. I recall that people have already been attacked by lawyers over the use of “Google” as a verb for example. Can I suggest the use of an alternative word – fructify – to make fruitful? E.g. “I’m going to fructify my IT organisation”.

    Transforming the average IT person into someone cool, creative and fashionable may be a challenge. I think some of those attributes are hereditary and can’t be taught as easily as C++. But maybe you could start by dressing them all in black roll-necks like Stebe Jobs?

  2. Frank DiGiovanni says:

    Didn’t Xerox attempt to protect it’s trademark from becoming a verb without much success? I seem to remember an advertising campaign to distinguish Xeroxing copies vs make copies on a Xerox brand copier many years ago. If the public starts to use it enough as a verb then eventually it ends up listed as such in a various dictionary’s and wiki’s as the lawyers try to remove the offending references. Just my two cents,

  3. Brian Prentice says:

    Nick – I don’t think you can turn an average IT person into a designer. What you can do is to hire designers and put them in a lead position on technology projects.



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