Apple’s ‘iPad’ is the only tablet people know

“Apple is on the verge of doing what few others have: change the English language,” Mae Anderson reports for The Associated Press.

“When you have a boo-boo, you reach for a Band-Aid not a bandage. When you need to blow your nose, you ask for Kleenex not tissue,” Anderson reports. “And if you want to buy a tablet computer, there’s a good chance there’s only one name you’ll remember. ‘For the vast majority, the idea of a tablet is really captured by the idea of an iPad,’ says Josh Davis, a manager at Abt Electronics in Chicago. “They gave birth to the whole category and brought it to life.'”

Anderson reports, “Companies trip over themselves to make their brands household names. But only a few brands become so engrained in the lexicon that they’re synonymous with the products themselves. This so-called ‘genericization’ can be both good and bad for companies like Apple, which must balance their desire for brand recognition with their disdain for brand deterioration… A company’s biggest fear is that their brand name becomes so commonly used to describe a product that a judge rules that it’s too ‘generic’ to be a trademark. That means that any product — even inferior ones — can legally use the name.”

Read more in the full article here.

40 Comments

  1. I found my self doing this just yesterday. I saw some one using an Android tablet to take a picture. Knowing full well it was not an iPad, I started to say how silly it is to take a picture with the crappy camera in a Tablet computer; I ended up saying how stupid it is to take a picture with your iPad, because iPad was the only word that came to mind to describe that sort of device.

    1. Not that crappy actually, and really different to use – rather like an old-fashioned plate camera. All that’s needed is a tripod and large shroud to complete the effect!

      1. Lol…not really. I still use a 7″x8″ plate camera and its about as old school as you can get in photography terms – but at least the image is the right way up on the iPad 🙂

      2. Oh I know the new iPad actually has a pretty decent camera but this wasn’t an iPad, it was some cheap Android crap. It looked awkward to use and I’d bet it didn’t have a camera anywhere near as nice as the new iPad since most don’t.

  2. “A company’s biggest fear is that their brand name becomes so commonly used to describe a product that a judge rules that it’s too ‘generic’ to be a trademark. That means that any product — even inferior ones — can legally use the name.”

    Is that so? Then why don’t we have “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex” products by other manufacturers?

    1. Yeah, I’m trying to remember the last time that happened. The only one I know of is “Aspirin”, which is a trademark of Bayer everywhere but the US. But that happened a long, long, long time ago, and if I know my history, the decision was considered shocking even back then.

      Seriously, if “Band-Aid” and “Kleenex” haven’t lost their trademarks, everyone is safe.

      ——RM

      1. How about Videotape, Escalator, Webster’s Dictionary, and several others? It is rare, but it’s not like as if anything changed in the law to keep it from happening anymore. If anything businesses have just become more delligent in protecting their brands.

        That said, I don’t think Apple has anything to worry about in terms of iPad becoming genericized.

          1. Why would anyone use “websters dictionary” in the generic? I think most people say dictionary…

            Didn’t realize dry ice had. Even trademarked. Interesting fun fact.

            1. People might use it as a generic, as in “according to Webster’s.” The reason a dictionary company might use it is to sell stuff in the store that a parent or other buyer would think is authoritative and high-quality because of the name. Basically the same reason someone might knock off iPad if they could get away with it.

            2. Most people do use “Webster’s” in the generic. Go to a store (if you can find a book store) and you’ll see the dictionary shelf is full of “Webster’s Dictionaries” from several companies. The name means nothing anymore.

          2. I was surprised to learn ping pong was a trademark.

            Other more obvious ones: xerox, Vaseline and Popsicle are in the scrabble dictionary although Q-tip is not.

      2. As part of war reparations specified in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles following Germany’s surrender after World War I, Aspirin (along with heroin) lost its status as a registered trademark in France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where it became a generic name. Today, “aspirin” is a generic word in Australia, France, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Jamaica, Colombia, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Aspirin, with a capital “A”, remains a registered trademark of Bayer in Germany, Canada, Mexico, and in over 80 other countries, where the trademark is owned by Bayer, using acetylsalicylic acid in all markets, but using different packaging and physical aspects for each.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin#Trademark

        1. Relatively technical people maybe. Almost all “normal” people call them iPods in my experience.

          Of course, it’s gotten to the point where you almost never see any other players other than an iPod anyway.

  3. This is only true because the iPad is the only tablet computer
    worth remembering. Once the ” competition” starts innovating
    instead of copying and ripping off perhaps another one might get some name recognition. And by the time Google has come out with their ” glasses” Apple will have perfected it
    as a contact lens.

  4. Apple’s already done this with the iPod. I’ve seen people with some generic mp3 player and someone else ask which iPod that was.
    Even more evidence that the iPad is following the iPod’s trajectory and not the iPhone’s.

    1. I said this when the iPad first came out when everyone said it was a silly name and, I’ll say it again… Apple called the iPad, iPad because it is so similar to the name iPod. iPod is a ubiquitous term and was the king of the market and just by having a similar name iPad will also become this. It is something that is psychologically engrained into us through mass recognition and by cleverly choosing the name iPad for their tablet apple has written the future success for the device on the back of every single one.

    1. Not really. I think Apple would need to get back to about a 70% to 80% market share to actually call it an iPad market. I’m pretty sure that Wall Street thinks that Android tablets are going to eat much further into the tablet market, leaving the iPad with only about 50% market share at most. Apple is really leaving too many holes open without iPad model diversity. There were at least four different iPod models at one time which covered low to high price range. Apple doesn’t offer an iPad nano or shuffle for consumers.

      Apple honestly doesn’t seem aggressive enough in iPad marketing, either. The school system is just begging for a tablet transition to digital books and Apple doesn’t seem to be doing very much to offer a educational lock into the iOS ecosystem. I’m concerned that Microsoft and partners are going to be very aggressive with their tablet pricing and shut out Apple all over again.

      1. Do you expect Apple to supply iPads starting at $99 and then have a range of sizes , capacities and added features which rise in $50 or $100 increments? That sounds like a strategy from Dell or RIM: It doesn’t really apply to this market in my view.

        You just come off as another ignorant Apple hating Microsoft or Google fan.

        Customers have the choice of the newest iPad or the previous model at a lower price, and if they need something smaller there is the iPod touch.

      2. I think schools already know that if they go with a lesser priced “tablet” item, that they may not be able to upgrade them downstream as has happened to a number of Android phones. Plus they need the “enterprise” support to manage them and the data that goes onto them.

        At this point, Apple is so far ahead in the screen technology alone, that I don’t see corporations or schools wanting 2nd best. Apple is not going to be undersold at the same quality level.

        Schools also know if they train their kids on an Android Tablet and then they hop out of school into a job using the market leader iPad, the kids are going to go through an adjustment period that is wasteful.

        Apple’s 1st gen iPads are running just fine w/o a hitch. That is the sort of continuity guarantee that companies and schools need to be sure their hardware works for a 2-3 year lifespan OR Apple needs to have a 1-2 year lease plan for schools and turns them over regularly.

  5. Which judge exactly ruled against a brand owner suing an infringer? They don’t cite one case because I rather suspect their isn’t one. Hence why Dyson or Electrolux never mention Hoover in any copy they use. Sure, you might find people Hoovering up in TV scripts but that’s not trading intje back of Hoovers rights.

  6. I hate the term “tablet”, it connotes those clunky PC versions of last decade. Apple should call its new category “internet pad”, and the iPad will own it by virtue of its name. Just like the original iMac was an “internet Mac”.

  7. I wonder how many of them have only mp3s on them? I understand it is necessary simplification for the tech illiterate, but unless the majority of your music is from P2P sites, then they are likely in AAC and WMP (is that what they call it? Wimp?) format. iTunes and Wimp are so prevalent and the installed base of CDs is so large that it is likely that tracks ripped from CDs or purchased from iTunes represent at least half of all music on digital music players. In other words, mostly not mp3s.

    Yes, I am foolishly pedantic

  8. I was in Staples today and they had a bunch of these “off-brand iPads”. They all looked like bloated, overweight iPads that got botched plastic surgery in a sad, last-gasp effort to look pretty for the school picture.

    I’m sure the best iPad knockoff featuring the very latest scoop of ice cream (or yogurt?) is decent. But the majority of them are not the best hardware and may not run the latest OS.

  9. They’ve already done this with the iPod and I’ve already seen this phenomenon with the iPad. A guy I work with is always referring to his Android tablet as an iPad. The funny thing is, it’s not that he thinks his tablet is an iPad, it’s that hes’ already using the term as a generic word for “tablet”.

  10. WRONG!!! 2 people remembered the other iPad variation below. Samdong’s CEO and Sandong’s Lawyer.

    >> Samdong Galaxy tab 10.1 4G LTE Epic 3D touch Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich + the iPad-look alike we made that Apple tried to stop.

  11. When there is actual competition with the iPad, we’ll see if the language drifts back to ‘tablet’ or ‘slate’. Certainly for 2012, there is ONLY the iPad versus the OtherPad (aka crap). 😉

    So, where are you, iPad competitors? Hurry up!

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