Steve Jobs Originally Wanted A Different Name For Safari

Branding is essential to the success of any tech product, and it's an area where Apple particularly excels. The company has a slew of gadgets and applications that users immediately recognize by their names alone. Macs, for instance, have carved out a solid foothold in a world dominated by Windows PCs. The iPod paved the way for the now-ubiquitous iPhone and iPad. Those who exclusively use Apple devices have grown accustomed to using Siri for guidance and to having Safari as their web browser of choice.

What the average user may not realize is that coming up with memorable names for products takes a lot of work. It often requires countless brainstorming sessions, with every person involved in the product's inception having their own ideas. As it turns out, the web browser Apple aficionados have come to know and love as Safari was almost known as something else entirely (via Slate).

What might Safari have been called instead?

According to Don Melton — an ex-Apple engineer credited for initiating and leading the team behind the Safari project — during a design team session in 2002, Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs started calling out potential names for the company's flagship web browser, in what Melton speculated was an effort to find one that sounded good and easily rolled off the tongue.

One of the options that Jobs felt strongly about was "Freedom," which Melton assumed was a reference to how Apple's web browser aimed to unshackle computer users from only having Microsoft's Internet Explorer at their disposal, which was the web browser standout back then.

After much discussion, "Freedom" was taken out of consideration. Within the company, the browser application was nicknamed "Alexander" after Alexander the Great, according to Slate. Other Apple employees often jokingly referred to it as "iBrowse," a moniker Melton used to chide his fellow engineers when they asked him about the naming progress. Eventually, after several months of spit-balling within team sessions, Jobs chose "Safari" as the final name for the web browser.

And then Safari was born

The very first version of Safari was released on June 23, 2003, during that year's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California (via Apple). It came as the default web browser for the new line of Macintosh computers also announced at the event, which included the Power Mac G5. Armed with features such as Google search, tabbed browsing, and pop-up ad blocking, Safari positioned itself as a legitimate challenger to Internet Explorer.

These days, of course, Safari is an essential part of the Apple ecosystem, and its availability has extended far beyond just the Mac. Notable features these days include faster loading times, 4K video streaming, and built-in privacy protection — all of them a far cry from the marquee features Safari brought to the table when it was brand new.

As far as Melton is concerned — he reportedly was not in the room when it happened — no one was officially credited for coming up with Apple's now-popular web browser name. It is also unclear why Jobs chose the name or how he got to the final pick. On his blog, however, Melton concurred that Safari was a great ultimate choice that could potentially stand the test of time.