Google renamed “Bard” to “Gemini” as part of launching mobile apps and an Advanced tier. While I was never a fan of the Bard name, Google might be pigeonholing itself by calling everything Gemini.
Gemini is the name of Google’s flagship large language model (LLM). I believe it’s a reference to how the Google Brain and DeepMind teams were merged last year. Latin for “twins,” the Gemini name perfectly encapsulated that.
Now, Gemini is the name of all Google AI products. This includes the conversational AI chatbot on web and mobile, as well as experiences in Gmail, Docs, and other Workspace products. (Google Cloud will also be using that brand for enterprise tools.)
The consistency is not a bad idea as you previously had Bard and then Duet AI in some of Google’s most important consumer products, while Gemini Nano powers a handful of Android experiences. Google’s main rationale is that the new name emphasizes what end users are really interacting with:
Our mission with Bard has always been to give you direct access to our AI models, and Gemini represents our most capable family of models. To reflect this, Bard will now simply be known as Gemini.
However, I don’t think the model and product should share the same name, especially one that people are not really aware of.
I think astrology is most people’s entry point to the term, with NASA’s Project Gemini – Apollo’s precursor – possibly being next. (If people did know that Gemini means twin, Google could harp on the fact that its AI will be a companion for your digital world, though I’d argue Duet does a better job of highlighting that paired nature.)
Gemini is a break from the company’s usual naming convention of literally calling products what they are as seen by Google Photos, Drive, and Maps. It’s boring, but very straightforward and reflects how the company wants you to associate with the main “Google” brand that provides different services.
The Gemini name does not convey what the product does. As such, Google has to do a lot of advertising to raise awareness, and that feels like a self-imposed barrier.
Looking ahead, this approach inherently requires Google to stick to calling all of its future models “Gemini” even if they’re not related. What happens when the next breakthrough after LLMs are made? Is that going to get the same Gemini X.0 branding even if the developers consider it different enough technology-wise? Will it end up getting a different codename internally that those in the know will have to juggle?
When Google comes up with a next-generation AI, today’s Gemini strategy means that the name of the products end users interact with might have to change, and that’s always disruptive.