Wi-Fi is something most of us use every day. It is a miraculous technology that allows us to communicate and share large amounts of digital information to multiple devices without using cables. Asking for a Wi-Fi password is almost like asking for a glass of water in many homes and establishments. But what does that mean? If you’re like me, all of your assumptions will be wrong.
Wireless fidelity? Bad. Wireless finder? No. Faded fireballs? Not even close, my friend.
According to the MIC (opens in a new tab) quoting this 2005 interview by Boing Boing (opens in a new tab), Wi-Fi means none of these things, and in fact means virtually nothing at all. Rather, Wi-Fi was a name agreed between a group now known as the Wi-Fi alliance. (opens in a new tab) and a few brand consultants from the Interbrand agency. It’s a bit like when you find out that a friend has been using their middle name for years.
The original term IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence seemed a little harsh in the 90s slogan, so the alliance was looking for something a little more marketable. 10 names were proposed by the brand’s agency, and finally the group opted for Wi-Fi, despite the emptiness of the name. Although a meaningless name does not work for everyone.
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“The only reason you hear about ‘Wireless Loyalty’ is because some of my colleagues in the band were scared. They didn’t understand branding or marketing. They couldn’t imagine using the name ‘Wi- Fi’ without having some sort of literal explanation,” Wi-Fi Alliance founding member Bélanger said in the interview. “So we compromised and agreed to include the tagline ‘The Standard for Fidelity wireless” with the name. This was a mistake and only served to confuse people and dilute the brand.
A word that many of us say potentially multiple times a day is actually marketing nonsense. Give it a Google on a Win XP machine and really feel the logical dissonance.
So Wi-Fi means nothing, but maybe it’s the friends we made along the way? After all, we are currently upgrading from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 7 (opens in a new tab)and it hasn’t even been certified yet (opens in a new tab). You can get Wi-Fi range extenders (opens in a new tab)usb adapters (opens in a new tab)update Wi-Fi drivers (opens in a new tab), and connect to Wi-Fi all day. Wi-Fi really is a technology that smells good, whatever its name.