Where to start? I’ve heard and read scores of predictions about this new device’s hardware specs, which OS and apps it will run, and what type of touchscreen interface it will use, but the most interesting conjecture, to me, has been about the product’s name. (I’m apparently not alone; at least one online bookie has opened lines on various names.)
Perhaps it’s because Apple’s product names are such a part of our technological culture: Mac, iMac, iPod, iPhone, and MacBook have all become everyday words; the same can’t be said about the names of products from many other companies. Or maybe it’s because few companies generate fierce debate simply by the choice of a product name—remember when “MacBook” replaced “PowerBook”? Whatever the reason, I’ve found myself more curious about what Apple’s going to call this rumored new product than about the size of its screen.
In that spirit, here’s a quick look at what I think are the most-likely names for Apple’s new tablet-like computing device—assuming it exists, of course—along with the pros and cons for each. I also threw in the biggest speculation-inducing tidbit for each.
“Apple Tablet” is the way most of the media have referred to Apple’s rumored device. But will it stick as an actual product name?
Pros: It’s simple, descriptive, memorable, and apt.
I like the similarity to iPod, but something about this name makes me cringe a little.
Pros: It’s a simple, tablet-inspired play on the known-everywhere-in-the-world iPod name. “Pad” would be a good brand for a tablet-style device that lets you record and explore your creative ideas.
Cons: It’s close enough to “iPod” that it might cause confusion. MadTV already parodied the name as a feminine-hygiene product. To some people, anything with “pad” in the name sounds like a game device.
I haven’t seen many mentions of this name around the Web, but it’s similar to Canvas and has some apt associations.
Pros: Like Canvas, it has creative connotations, but with a tech twist: it’s also the name for a small window containing essential tools and information—appropriate if Apple’s new device is designed to complement a traditional computer, rather than replace it.
Cons: “Palette” feels a bit too inconsequential—in both art and computing, it’s more of an accessory to something else than a meaningful thing on its own.
Biggest speculation-inducing tidbit: The aforementioned event invitation also looks a bit like a palette.
Jason Snell mentioned this one last week, and it’s certainly a path Apple could take considering that some think the device will in many ways be a sort of super-sized iPod touch.
Pros: The “iPod [model]” series of names is one of the most recognizable and popular brands in the world. Combining iPod with one of the names above—for example, iPod tablet or iPod canvas—wouldn’t be a horrible way to go.
Cons: The iPod touch notwithstanding, many people associate “iPod” with media playback rather than more-flexible computing devices. Would make the device just another member of the iPod product line, instead of creating a new and unique line. The iPod line has been around for nearly a decade; I’m guessing Apple sees this new device as part of the future of computing.
Biggest speculation-inducing tidbit: The fact that the iPod touch is officially an iPod, despite running iPhone OS and being more of handheld computer than a media player.
Pros: It’s a great name that combines e-reading with the multimedia and communication focus of Apple’s “i” devices. It’s well-known, but it’s been dormant long enough that it’s feasible Apple could pull it out of retirement.
Cons: It used to be Apple’s name for a traditional laptop. It might focus attention on the device’s ebook-reading features at the expense of its other capabilities. Ads for “Apple iBook, like new!” would cause mass confusion and frustration on ebay and Craigslist.
Biggest speculation-inducing tidbit: The most economical choice, as Apple already has the trademark and lots of old posters, T-shirts, and ad copy that could be recycled.
Got your own favorite name? Tell us about it, and why you like it, in the comments.
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