Amazon has a knack for naming. The company is named after the longest river in the world – a fitting moniker for the biggest shop in the world. They have creative product names as well. Kindle is easily the best-named e-reader. A9 is a bit of a dud, but we’ll let that one slide. But by far, the best name out of Amazon is Mechanical Turk.
If you haven’t heard of it, Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace that gives programmers access to people all around the world to perform tasks that computers aren’t good at. The name is thought provoking – you know there’s a story there even if you don’t know what that story is.
What is the story, you ask? The Mechanical Turk was a chess playing automaton built by Hungarian inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen. Unveiled in 1770, the Turk was a big hit. He played and beat royalty from Austria, Russia and France. He conquered Napoleon and outmaneuvered Ben Franklin. The only problem was that in the early 1820s, the Turk was discovered to be an elaborate hoax. The so-called automaton was actually manned by an expertly concealed chess master.
So what do you do when there’s a complex task you can’t get a machine to do? Get a person to do it. The connection to Amazon’s product couldn’t be better.
Mechanical Turk is a perfect example of a creative product name that most companies would shy away from. Risk-averse execs would say “…but it was a hoax!” Weary product people would point out that it might offend Turkish people. The important thing to remember here is that the name is great because it ties the product to a really cool story. And cool stories aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. They have deception and mishaps – just like real life. So we tip our hats to you, Amazon, for having the balls to go with a creative product name that has a great story behind it.
Mission complete, +5 mana. Check out some of our other naming posts.