Apple used to sell just one size of iPhone. But now, between the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE, there are three different … iPhones? iPhone? iPhone models? In a debate better suited for a grammar-school classroom than the digital halls of Twitter, Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller has taken some users to task over how they form the plural of Apple products – and in doing so, has created quite the little controversy for himself.
It all started innocently enough, with a tweet about “iPads Pro.” That’s an awkward construction, and we’d probably find ourselves referring to multiple iPad Pro tablets as “iPad Pros” – this tweet was met with that very same criticism. But a few comments later, Phil Schiller found himself drawn into the mix, and he offered the suggestion, “One need never pluralize Apple product names. Ex: Mr. Evans used two iPad Pro devices.”
Schiller went on to clarify, “Words can be both singular and plural, such as deer and clothes,” before offering the further example of “It would be proper to say ‘I have 3 Macintosh’ or ‘I have 3 Macintosh computers’.”
This interaction has fueled a few reports claiming that Apple (though Mr. Schiller) is now saying that the use of “iPhones” or “iPads” is improper – and critics are already pointing out that Apple itself has used those terms on more than one occasion.
Those references to mass nouns (like clothes) and collective nouns (like deer) are further confusing, as Schiller seems to be treating them as examples of the same thing – they’re not.
So who’s right here? It turns out that Apple has an official style guide, which offers the following advice:
Trademarked product names: Form the plural of trademarked product names by adding the plural generic noun to the singular product name.
Correct: Mac computers, MacBook Pro computers, iMac computers
Incorrect: Macs, MacBook Pros, iMacs
That’s how Apple would prefer things, formally at least. But you don’t work for Apple (and neither do we), so feel free to go on calling iPhones and iPads whatever you like.