Developers for the world's biggest companies often use codenames to identify their in-progress projects. The main purpose is to keep the project under wraps until it is ready to be revealed to the public. Some of the codenames appear to be random while others bring awareness to important issues. Codenames have also been used to take a light hearted stab at the competition. Here are some of the most interesting codenames that have been used ranging from state parks to infamous gangsters.

TUTORIAL: Investing 101

1. Mozilla & Nature
The company behind the web browser Firefox looks to nature when they choose names for its projects. Places like Bon Echo Provincial Park in Southern Ontario, Shiretoko National Park in Japan, and Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland have all been used to name different versions of Firefox. Mozilla took a personal interest in Namoroka Park after it was used as the code name for Firefox 3.6. In 2010, the company worked with the Madagascar Fauna Group to help raise money to protect lemur habitats in the park. In 2009, Mozilla Japan paired with the Shiretoko Nature Foundation to launch a marketing campaign to teach people about Shiretoko National Park after Mozilla used the park's name as code for a version of Firefox.

Current code names for mobile application projects were inspired by animals and weather. They include an email client called Thunderbird, a task management system called Lightning, a calendar application called Sunbird and an all-in-one application called SeaMonkey.

2. Microsoft & Travel
The developers at Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) seem to have wanderlust as they use potential vacation destinations as the codenames for their projects. Some examples include Chicago as the code name for Windows 95, Memphis for Windows 98 and Whistler, a popular ski resort town in British Columbia, Canada, for Windows XP. (For related reading, see Wall Street History: Microsoft Buys Apple.)

3. Apple & Cats
The codenames used by Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) for its Mac products have ranged from musical references like Harmony, Tempo and Allegro to big cats like Jaguar, Tiger and Panther. In the early days of the company, the project engineers would use their daughters' names as codes – for example, the Lisa computer shared a name with Steve Jobs's daughter (although officially, Apple has said it comes from an acronym: Local Integrated Software Architecture). They playfully poked fun at Microsoft's Window 95 (codenamed Chicago) by naming their competing product, the Mac OS 7.5, to be named Capone after the infamous mob boss who ruled the city before his death in 1947. (For related reading, see The Apple Ecosystem.)

4. Google & Food
A fanaticism with food must be a requirement for the developers at Google (Nasdaq:GOOG). The company's chow related product codenames are sure to make you hungry. Taco Town was the codename for Google Buzz; the developers got that idea from a Saturday Night Live skit. Dessert is on the menu for its line of Android products with codenames like Cupcake (Android 1.5), Donut (Android 1.6) and Éclair (Android 2.0/2.1). (For related reading, see 5 Surprising Companies Google Owns.)

5. Adobe & Sci-Fi
The creative staff at Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) goes to the movies when they come up with the top secret names for Photoshop. They paid homage to a 1983 science fiction film called "Taking Tiger Mountain" for Photoshop 3's code name (Tiger Mountain). The Red Pill, a concept from "The Matrix" that represents truth, served as code name for Photoshop CS3.

6. Fedora & Past Projects
The developers of this free operating system depend on their world-wide online community to come up with code names for its open source technology. They solicit names through their wiki page. Then, the Fedora Design Team puts the names up against a strict list of naming guidelines. The main rule is that the name of a current project must in some way relate to the project that came before it. For example, Fedora 9 was nicknamed Sulphur, a city in the United States. Fedora 10's codename was Cambridge, which is both a U.S. city and a ship in the U.S. Navy. Consequently, Fedora 11 was named Leonidas, a ship in the U.S. Navy.

The Bottom Line
The use of unusual, humorous and telling code names for new products is a time-honored tradition for developers. It is a clever way to keep exciting new products out of the public eye, but it is also an opportunity for a company to have some fun and set themselves apart. (For related reading, see Corporate Partnerships That Went Sour.)

Related Articles
  1. Entrepreneurship

    Top 5 Startups That Emerged in Raleigh

    Learn about the startup scene in the Research Triangle hub of Raleigh, North Carolina. Discover which startups are the hottest to emerge from this tech city.
  2. Markets

    How TheSkimm Works and Makes Money

    Obtain information on the popular news digest newsletter, theSkimm, and understand how email newsletter publishers generate revenues.
  3. Investing News

    How 'Honesty' Could Pay off for Jessica Alba

    Is it possible that Jessica Alba is one of the savviest businesswomen on the planet?
  4. Professionals

    5 Ways to Merge Marketing and Your Hobbies

    Marketing your services is an ongoing part of your business. There's no better way to do it than by engaging in activities that you enjoy.
  5. Investing News

    Famous Celebrities Who Love Investing

    Celebrities have a bit of a bad reputation these days. These five celebrities, though, have used their fame and their money to invest successfully instead of spending it on looking good.
  6. Investing Basics

    10 Companies That Hipsters Love

    Learn about the different companies to which hipsters tend to gravitate, including Apple, Uber, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel.
  7. Professionals

    Financial Advisors: Social Media Is a Gold Mine

    Learn how social media is a gold mine for financial advisers. Maintaining a social media presence enables you to reach customers, and it provides social proof.
  8. Professionals

    Top Referral Tips for Financial Advisors

    A referral from a friend, colleague or industry expert can go a long way in getting more prospective clients to give you a call. Be proactive about it.
  9. Professionals

    The Top 5 Richest Restaurateurs

    The top five richest restaurateurs have proven that it is possible to not only turn a profit in the restaurant business but to become multi-millionaires!
  10. Professionals

    The Top Six Richest Supermodels

    Through excellent investing, brand management and high earnings, these six supermodels have cultivated multi-million dollar net worths.
  1. Brand Identity

    The components of the brand are created by the business itself, ...
  2. Negative Option Deals

    A dubious business practice that involves supplying a typically ...
  3. Quick Response (QR) Code

    A type of bar code which can be read by a digital device, and ...
  4. Mobile Advertising

    Mobile advertising is a method of advertising that appears on ...
  5. Mobile Marketing

    Mobile marketing is marketing that takes place via mobile devices ...
  6. Direct Mail

    A credit card offer targeted at a specific consumer and sent ...
  1. How does a long tail become profitable?

    A long tail becomes profitable because the costs to produce, market and distribute a product or service in a niche are low, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do companies with a large product portfolio use BCG Analysis?

    BCG analysis is used to evaluate an organization's product portfolio in sales planning and marketing. It is specifically ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the similarities between product differentiation and product positioning?

    Product differentiation and product positioning are important elements in a marketing plan, and most marketing strategies ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why is product differentiation important in today's financial climate?

    Product differentiation is essential in today's financial climate. It allows the seller to contrast its own product with ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the major categories of financial risk for a company?

    There are many ways to categorize a company's financial risks. One possible perspective is provided by separating financial ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How has the Internet contributed to the long tail theory of marketing?

    The long-tail theory refers to a marketing strategy that relies on a large variety of slow-moving products to make huge sales ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!