Some fifteen or so years ago, I remember playing the Sony Playstation for the first time. My brother and I were in awe. We were used to a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Now, here was this !!!~~~ 32-bit ~~~!!! gaming system that used CDs instead of cartridges! Every game had its own little cinematic introduction, and the graphics and sound were unbelievable. (My, haven’t we come a long way?) Amidst the hours and hours of playing, I remember my mother coming in to ask us, “Are you going to just sit and play NINTENDO all day?” My brother and I emphatically exclaimed, “It’s not a Nintendo! It’s a Playstation!” As one could imagine, my mother continued to call it a NINTENDO for years to come. She still does. Despite my brother’s and my best efforts; it doesn’t matter what sort of game console it is– it’s a NINTENDO.
Another amusing anecdote– when I was in Elementary School, I remember going to the school office and asking the secretary or principal if I could “Xerox” something. I didn’t know any better. I thought “xerox” was actually a verb used to describe copying a sheet of paper onto another sheet of paper. I never even paid attention to the brandname written across the top corner of the copy machine. Imagine my surprise when I one day realized that there was a brand of copy machine AND copy paper named “Xerox.” It was at that moment that I realized, “Wait. Xerox is the name of a company, not a verb.”
Guess what, Apple fans? According to this article, Apple may be facing down a similar problem, again. For the second time in ten years, Apple is fighting against losing one of their patented intellectual titles to generic usage. Nearly a decade ago, everyone was calling any mp3 player an “iPod.” Now, every tablet on the face of the globe, including Android and Microsoft tablets, is being called an “iPad.” The term is falling farther and farther into the inescapable pit of public vernacular. People are walking into tech retail stores across the nation and asking to see “iPads,” only to see Apple’s tablet as one option, amidst any number of other “iPads” from which to choose. While on one hand, this is a delightful problem for Apple to face; it’s a little bit of a legal nightmare should courts decide that an “iPad” is simply another interchangeable term for tablet.
In the South, when someone says, “Hey man, you want a Coke?” I sometimes tell him, “Yeah. Make it a Dr. Pepper.” I wonder if that will ultimately become the case for the term “iPad.” “Hey man, I think I’m going to get an iPad. I hear the new Samsung Galaxy Tab is a good one.”
Hey, don’t laugh. It’s already happening.