Michael Cronan, a marketing executive responsible for conjuring up the names of two hugely influential consumer gadgets, TiVo and the Amazon Kindle, died Tuesday at the age of 61. Throughout his renowned career, Cronan operated his namesake branding firm along with his wife Karin Himba. It was in 1997 that a company — then known as Teleworld — recruited Cronan to come up with a name for a forthcoming digital video recorder. From a pool of over 1,600 candidates, he ultimately settled upon "TiVo." “I thought it should be as close as possible to what people would find familiar, so it must contain T and V," he told the blog PVR in 2005. TiVo went on to become the de facto consumer DVR before cable providers latched onto and duplicated its functionality.
Then, in 2007, Amazon asked Cronan for his best naming ideas for an e-reader product. His wife told the New York Times that the creative executive sought to find a name that was "about starting something, giving birth to something." Kindle seemed a good fit. Thus Amazon's hugely influential brand was born and proved a monumental hit with consumers. Obviously the names alone didn't make these products successful, but perhaps the best clue that Cronan hit the mark perfectly is that it's hard to envision them being called anything else.