The iPad, Apple’s long-awaited tablet debuted the other day, and while it does contain some great features, a sticking point for many is the name. Apple undoubtedly saw it as a cute play on iPod, giving the new product the link to the enormously popular older one. But the jokes started almost immediately, with one Tweeter wondering if they bothered to Google (probably not!) the name. If they had, they would have stumbled across a Mad TV skit from 2005 that featured none other than the Apple iPad. And they weren’t talking about a tablet.
But Mad TV isn’t the only issue with the name. As name consultant Michael Cronan (whose firm helped develop the names TiVo and Kindle) says, “I think we’re going to get over this fairly quickly and we’ll get on with enjoying the experience.” Fujitsu, though, probably won’t. Three other tech companies have products on the market with the name iPad, according to the New York Times, and Fujitsu is one of them. They have applied for the iPad trademark in the US, and they have a product by that name. It is a $2000 device for checking inventory in stores.
Apple ran into a similar problem with the iPhone. Before it came out, there was an internet headset by Cisco with the name. Why let that stop you? Apple, in the form of Steve Jobs, pursued the name relentlessly. Former Cisco exec Charles Giancarlo was on the receiving end of Mr. Jobs’ tough negotiation skills. He says, “I feel sorry for the poor guy at Fujitsu who is going to be negotiating with Steve directly.”
Fujitsu has been trying to get the rights to the iPad name for years, and the process has stalled time and time again. Most recently, they re-filed in June, and Apple has blocked their bid with three separate petitions. It seems they just don’t care if somebody already has the name. And in fact, more than one somebody. There is a Canadian bra maker who has an iPad, there are engines and motors with the name, and an encrypted credit card swiper.
Matthew Humphries writes in Geek.com’s blog, “Ultimately, it all comes down to marketing and in that regard Apple wins hands down. If you say iPad to the majority of people they will think Apple product, and that is what matters in the end.” Who would have thought there would be a huge fight over this name…but maybe not such a fight if Apple stays true to form.
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