• 06.22.10

Take Two Tablets and Call Me in the Morning

Pad, tablet, book, slate – what shall we call these mini-computers?

I don’t have an iPad yet, but I really really want one. Well, I don’t know if I want an iPad per se, since I have an iPhone already (and really, isn’t the iPad a giant iPhone that doesn’t make calls? But that’s what you get with AT&T! Thank you, I’ll be here all week) but I am totally on board with the tablet computer. Or the ebook. Or the slate thing. Or something-pad. Come to think of it, have we decided what these things are called?


Jokes about feminine hygiene products aside (and they weren’t that funny, honestly), iPad isn’t a bad name. It’s generic and yet ownable in the style we’ve come to expect from Apple: it’s not just a phone, it’s an iPhone! It’s not just a notebook, it’s a MacBook! So “iPad”, while not thrilling, get the job done – and more importantly, lets you know that it’s an Apple product.

A quick survey of the competitive set shows a lot of variety in the names, including other “pad” names (Lenovo IdeaPad, MSI WindPad), several “book” names (Fujitsu Lifebook, HP EliteBook, MSI Slatebook), a couple that include the word “tablet” (Viewsonic VTablet, Archos 9 PC Tablet), and then a whole bunch of other stuff:

Samsung Galaxy
Notion Ink Adam
Dell Streak
Panasonic Let’s Note
Fusion Garage JooJoo
Halteron iLet
Entourage Edge
ICD Vega
Pandigital Novel
Qualcomm Mirasol

Any idea what a JooJoo is?

I found a lot of these products by doing a Google search on the words “tablet computers” and it looks like that’s the default designation right now. Of course Apple doesn’t ever call its iPad a tablet, but everyone else does, and a lovely picture of an iPad dominates the Wikipedia page about tablet computers. Tablets should not be confused with tablet PCs, which are pen-based, fully functional x86 computers with handwriting and voice recognition, according to Wikipedia, and there are even sub-categories of tablet PCs: booklets, slates, convertibles, and hybrids. If you are like me, your eyes have now glazed over and you’re back to wanting an iPad.

I like “tablet”. It’s good to have a word that focuses on the form factor, rather than the specific functionality; I think devices like the iPad are blurring the lines in terms of what counts as an ebook reader, a media viewer, and an oversized smartphone – and that’s not a bad thing. As for me, I don’t think I’ll be buying anything that connects – or, more accurately, doesn’t connect – to AT&T. I already have that with my iPhone.



Laurel Sutton is a partner at Catchword, a full-service naming firm headquartered in the Bay Area. Rumors to the contrary, she is not an Apple zombie.