With everyone swooning over iPhone 4—rightly so, in my opinion; I'll be pre-ordering on June 15, don't you worry—there's something I haven't seen anyone spend much time talking about. Apple changed the name of their mobile OS from "iPhone OS" to "iOS." Most people who comment on the change say simply that it makes sense, because the OS has expanded beyond the iPhone: first to the iPod touch, and more recently to the iPad.
This is true, but it misses a gigantic point.
The "i" prefix is THE Apple identifier. Not just for their mobile division: for the whole company since Steve Jobs's return as CEO in 1997. They burst back on the scene with the iMac. You had the iBook (the laptop, not the iBooks application). Before its official launch, the TV was going to be the iTV. Every idiot blogger who wants to make fun of Apple fans calls them iFans or iTards or i-Whatevers. When the iPhone launched, there was some question as to whether Apple would make the legal effort required to secure the name "iPhone," since it was the obvious choice but Cisco owned the name. The iPrefix is a clear and obvious way to say, "This product is made by Apple."
So when they change their mobile operating system's name to "iOS," what does that tell us? If you ask me, it tells us that Apple sees their future as wrapped up in these devices. When they say things like "This is changing the way we use computers," it's not empty marketing spin. They really believe it.
Whether or not you agree.