San Jose, Calif. You have to wonder whether there were any women in the room when the marketing geniuses at Apple decided to call the company’s new gadget the “iPad.” Because the jokes about feminine hygiene products are flying.
“Will women send their husbands to the Apple store to buy iPads?” went one joke on Twitter. And a “MadTV” comedy sketch from several years ago about an electronic sanitary napkin called the iPad went viral on YouTube.
So how did the company come up with the product name? And how could Apple have set itself up for such obvious punch lines?
Apple, a company notoriously secret about its product development process, declined to comment about the name or how many women were involved in the launch. Three Apple execs — all men — introduced the iPad in San Francisco.
But brand experts said the name’s not so bad. “It fits with what Apple’s been doing consistently. They take literal words that exist and stick an ‘i’ in front of it. And it works for them. It’s not offensive despite the silly jokes,” said Tye Heckler, a vice president at Seattle-based Hecker Associates, which is responsible for the store names Cinnabon, Panera and Starbucks.
Ira Kalb, associate director of the Center for Global Innovation at the University of Southern California’s business school, said: “Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know this is an Apple product just by the ‘i’ in front, and you know what it does by what ‘pad’ connotes.”
Kalb said the jokes are probably good for Apple — more buzz — and will pass. He said other names floated for the product — iTab, iSlate or iTablet — would have been far worse. ITablet has too many syllables. ISlate is too ancient. ITab is too confusing.
“Apple is all about innovation and ease of use. Those names just don’t go with that,” he said.
According to the Patent and Trademark Office database, more than 20 people or companies have tried to trademark “ipad,” “ipads” or “ipads.com” over the years, for such things as vaccines, stationery, makeup remover, bra padding and a host of electronics.
If the iPad sells, it won’t be the first time a company has been mocked for its name, only to have the product fly off the shelves. Nintendo was swamped with potty-training jokes after it announced its new game console: Wii.