Bloomberg News

Tablet by Any Other Name Not as Sweet as Apple Calls It ‘IPad’

March 08, 2012

Media review the new Apple iPad in San Francisco on March 7, 2012. Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Media review the new Apple iPad in San Francisco on March 7, 2012. Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

An iPad is an iPad is an iPad.

That’s the message Apple Inc. (AAPL) conveyed yesterday when it unveiled the third version of its tablet computer, calling it only...iPad.

After naming the previous version iPad 2, Apple abandoned a number-based nomenclature, surprising pundits who speculated that the company might name its new tablet “iPad 3” or “iPad HD,” referring to its high-definition screen.

Failing to set apart the new tablet by name could lead to brand confusion for consumers who own the original device, also called iPad, or for buyers of later versions, said Matt Gordon, director of naming and writing for Landor Associates, a brand consulting firm based in San Francisco.

“It does complicate things after the purchase,” he said. “It’s also confusing with the original iPad, down the road, as people have multiple generations of this device.”

Sticking with the original name of a device is hardly new for Cupertino, California-based Apple. The company updated the iPod multiple times without attaching numbers to the digital music player. Ditto for MacBook laptops and iMac desktops.

Naming the device iPad 3 “would be so predictable,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in remarks to reporters. “We’ve had many products where we’ve never used numbers. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.”

The move stands to reinforce Apple’s dominance of the tablet category, said Stephen Baker, vice president for industry analysis at NPD Group. According to market research firm Gartner Inc., Apple will account for two-thirds of the 103.5 million tablet devices sold in 2012.

‘Thumb In Eye’

“It’s more of a thumb in the eye of everyone else, like, ‘We don’t have to put numbers behind our products, because everyone knows what ours is,’” Baker said.

Apple gets about 20 percent of its sales from the iPad, attracting consumers as well as business users. It outfitted the newest version with a sharper screen and faster chip designed to help the company widen its lead over Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. in tablets.

“This move sets up an interesting decision in terms of branding when a new iteration comes out and the current model starts to sell at a lower price,” said Bill Kreher, an analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis, who has a “buy” rating on Apple. Still, he added, “I appreciate the simplicity of using just the iPad name.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Frier in New York at sfrier1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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