The media is awash with criticisms of Apple’s new name: iPad. Now, no one expected the product itself to be a technological flop. Apple just doesn’t flop anymore (well, not for a long time anyway). So the only thing left to criticize is their name choice. (CNN has really jumped on the pad = maxipad bandwagon.) But, are the criticisms well-founded, or are they just grasping at straws?
Most likely you’ve seen the 2006 MAD TV spoof of the iPod
I think it’s hilarious that some people on the internet think that Apple didn’t know about MAD TV’s spoof. That Apple would launch a multi-million dollar product and not know about every possible issue beforehand, well, that’s just absurd. Apple knew everything. You don’t think that they calculated that into their marketing campaign? C’mon, these guys are marketing geniuses, not marketing novices.
And let’s talk about the word pad for a minute. Is it really a horrible word choice? It’s fairly abstract in the way that pod was when Apple launched that product. And guess what? People hated the name iPod back then too. They were convinced it was a naming flop. And now it’s part of our common vocabulary. (And, let us not forget the Wii, which was critically panned for six months as a ridiculous name, until the product hit the shelves. Now Wii is revered as a game-changer product and product name.)
And, what about all the computer uses of the word pad? ThinkPad, mouse pad, LeapPad, IdeaPad, not to mention pad of paper, legal pad, gauze pad, lily pad, etc. Is it so damning that one of the nearly five billion uses of the word pad is related to women’s menstrual cycles? Are we so culturally grossed out by a woman’s reproductive cycle that we must condemn anything that even connotes vagina? I think the answer might go without saying.
iPad is a perfect name for Apple. It recalls their other global mega-hit, the iPod. What’s more, it’s abstract enough to apply to this elusive product category. It’s not quite a netbook, not quite a laptop, not quite an ebook reader, and not quite a tablet computer. What better way to define a new category than by just giving it a proprietary and somewhat abstract name (a la iPod)?
And to toss out some love to our trekkie readers: It turns out that Star Trek captains and crew have been using tablet/pad computers for decades. Captain Kirk and Captain Picard used pad computers for reviewing reports. And DS9 Captain Sisko even had a tablet computer called a PADD that looked eerily like the new iPad. Hmm, first Star Trek’s communicator preceded flip phones by 30 or so years. Then Star Trek’s pad computers gave way to the iPad. To boldly go, indeed!
To summarize, I think this too shall pass. In six months when people are happily walking around with their iPads glued to their hands, no one will even give the name a second thought. In fact, I might even go so far as to predict that feminine hygiene pads might lose their association with the word pad. It’s a long shot, but you never know, what with the power of Apple’s branding power…