Model numbers, both in the monitor market and other technology markets, can be very confusing to those not in the know.
There’s no place like KVbmiiprzx
Your ‘XV272U KVbmiiprzx’ is a great example of that. Now, I don’t work for Acer, so I’m only guessing, but based on my experience I’d guess that everyone buying an Acer Nitro XV272U gets (more or less) the same monitor. So why the stroke? ‘KVbmiiprzx’ may provide a wealth of information that is only really relevant to Acer employees, such as the target market for your monitor, the type of adapter or cables that came with it, the language of the box, manual, and other printed materials, or even the particular distributor the monitor was sold to.
As keeping the number of SKUs down is an important part of our team’s efforts to keep manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics as simple and low-cost as possible, we don’t offer hundreds of different flavors. That means your box and documentation will be in English, localized power cables will be limited, and so forth. It also means that our model numbers shouldn’t need tails that look like we were trying to frantically wipe down the keyboard after spilling our drink.
Why the arcane gibberish?
The part of the model number that is most relevant to consumers then, is ‘XV272U’. I can guess that ‘27’ indicates a 27-inch monitor, but what’s the point of ‘XV2U’? Obviously, ‘27’ can’t be the only indicator of the model, as Acer sells 27-inch monitors in more than one flavor. Similarly, we have more than one model in our Spectrum line-up.
So we need something more detailed. You mentioned adding ‘4K144’, to denote the resolution and refresh rate. This would be a logical step to take, considering they are the main differentiators between our models at the moment. ‘4K’ of course is punchy, but ‘1440p’ is already a bit lengthier for our other models.
Having ‘27’ in the model number is a bit redundant, considering all Spectrum monitors have a 27-inch display. But I guess it prepares us in case we release different sizes in the future… Of course, what if instead of releasing a variant of ES274K144 with a 31.5-inch screen, we instead release a version with a white cabinet? ES274K144White, perhaps. Or what if we get one with the same specs but upgrade the DisplayPort to 2.0? ES274K144DP2.0. Or its 31.5-inch white variant with cover glass, the ES3154K144WhiteDP2.0Glass. The Spectrum line-up is simple now, with few differences between the models, but that will not be the case forever.
It is already not the case for our other product lines, as we’ve been in this situation before with our first-generation V: Because they did not have model numbers, my specific model would be referred to as VDUi751216WP: A V that came with a Dutch keyboard, a Core i7, 512GB of storage, 16GB of ram, and Windows Pro. Considering that our new V also has an option for LTE, that’s another thing to tack onto the model name, if we were to keep to this convention.
I think this should start to illustrate why a model number can’t just be a summary of the spec sheet. We’d have to start using shorthand for all the different options, and before we know it we’re KVbmiiprzx.
Making model numbers
When I set out how to assign model numbers, there were a few things I sought to achieve:
Keep it unique
The primary job of a model number, is to denote a specific model. Each number should be unique, with no overlap. Just ‘S’ for ‘Spectrum’ does not work, because we may end up with a different product series that starts with ‘S’. (And that’s a more realistic scenario than trying to come up with cool new product names that use the left-over letters of the alphabet!) This requirement often leads to longer model numbers.
Keep it as short as possible
A good model number is as simple as it can be. Being shorter, it is easier to remember, write down, or type out. It also makes it easier to identify differences. It’s easier to compare ‘0010’ and ‘0110’ than it is to compare ‘0010001011’ and ‘0010011011’. This requirement often leads to shorter model numbers.
Keep it consistent
Ideally, all product lines use the same format, and the length of the model numbers does not vary over time. Going from 9 to 10 adds a digit, or may cause overlap with the value on the left. Keeping the length and format of the model numbers consistent helps when entering them into databases or sorting them for easy reference.
Keep it recognizable
When support has to direct a customer to their model number, it’s really helpful if model numbers have a consistent format. “Look for the model number on the back, it’s seven characters and starts with ‘ES’” is a very convenient aid to direct less tech-savvy end users to the information they need.
Note that ‘being able to instantly know the specifications of the product’ is not a part of this list of requirements – the previous section of this post should have explained why.
I’ll go into more detail about how our model numbers work later, but I’m heading into the next meeting now. Hope this at least gives some background already!