Euro, Wii, and now iPad.

Apple announced that their keyless, touch-screen tablet offering will be called the iPad, and the iTampon jokes are flying. This is to be expected, but it does not mean that iPad is a bad name. Not for Apple, it isn't. Apple can make this work just fine. Marketing 201: if you're a small company, your product name will be defined by language. But if you're a huge company (or a government,) language can be redefined by your product name. Two recent examples: first, many Greeks objected to the name "Euro" for the European Union's international currency because in their language it sounded an awful lot like "oúra," which is their word for urine. (Of course, the abbreviation for "pennies" in the UK has been "p" [pronounced "pee"] for a long time, and nobody accidentally fishes change out of the urinal.) After the initial kerfluffle the confusion just went away. Europe's currency is the Euro, and that word makes only a very, very few of us think of urine. Second, the "Wii." Again with the potty-humor. But Nintendo, while not quite as big as Europe, had the marketing dollars to reshape language. It's been years since I made jokes about getting carpal tunnel from playing with my Wii. The jokes stopped being funny (assuming they ever started) and besides, now you have to actually think about it to make the connection. "Wii" only means "Nintendo game console" now. Language changed because Nintendo told it to. And now Apple wants us to call this device of theirs an "iPad." Guess what? The iTampon jokes are going to stop being funny (again, assuming they ever started) because Apple has the market presence to reshape language. Just like "Pod" now suggests MP3-related technology and services ("podcast," for starters), "Pad" is going to mean "keyboardless portable notebook computer with a touch-screen." Were there women involved in naming this thing "iPad?" I'm sure there were. And I bet that they've all taken Marketing 201, and knew exactly what they were doing. Whether or not the device lives up to the hype is another matter entirely. And now, the obligatory closing of the loop: "Waaugh! Somebody get me an iPad! My Wii is getting Euro all over the coffee-table!"
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