Name That iPad

There is much discussion lately about what a new, smaller form factor iPad might be called. Names that have been mentioned as possibilities include iPad Nano, iPad Mini and iPad Junior. Okay, the last one is more of a joke by Dan Benjamin, but he's sticking with it. I have an iPad, and I can see why some might prefer a smaller, lighter form factor. I think that if Apple does in fact release this device, it will sell very well (especially if they hit the purported $199 - $249 price point). I don't, however, think that any of the above names will end up being the one assigned to the device at launch.

Past Precedent

What the above names have in common is that they are rooted in Apple's past naming schemes. The smaller iPod models got "Shuffle" and "Nano" appended to their base "iPod" name. The iPod remained the "iPod" for several cycles, and then became the "iPod Classic." There was also the iPod "Touch," which serves as the iPhone, without the phone, media player niche. "Mini" comes up in the "Mac Mini" product, and speaks to the devices tiny footprint. "Express" could even be mentioned from past naming, as the smaller AirPort product uses this to separate itself from the larger, slightly different in function, AirPort Extreme.

Why None Of This Matters

Apple is making a shift in its mobile product naming. What is different about all of the above examples and the possible new smaller 7" - 8" is simple. Each of those was a new product launch in a product "family", but not simply a shrunken version of the existing product. The iPod variants each had their own personality and filled a unique position in the market. The Mac Mini was a category almost all its own.

It is my belief that the move to calling the (3rd generation) iPad just "iPad" was with future plans in mind. If they called it the iPad3, then that would significantly limit their options with another smaller device in the lineup. iPad4 or 3S (for small) wouldn't make sense. Ipad4 would make it seem iterative when the product may actually have less advanced hardware than the 3rd generation iPad. The "S" in iPhone product names has typically been understood by most to stand for "speed", not "small."

The iPad

I believe that a smaller iPad would simply be launched as "the iPad." Yes, I know that is the same exact name of the larger device that recently launched with a retina screen. It is also the name of the original device that launched a couple of years ago. I think Apple is taking a page from other product lines that have the same device, but in multiple size/spec configurations. The iMac has two sizes, yet share the same name. Same with the MacBook and MacBook Air lines. While it makes it a bit more difficult for writers and reviewers to specify which device they are discussing, that really isn't Apple's concern. When a consumer tells their friends they purchased an iPad, and the question of "which one" is asked, they'll simply say, "the smaller one" or "the bigger one."

For what it's worth, I also believe that the next iPhone will simply be called "the iPhone" for similar reasons. At one point, the race towards the next device launch was iterative, and the naming took that into account. Now, it is just a natural transition like new versions of the next luxury vehicle in a line. People use a descriptor which is not part of the make/model name, like the year, or 2-door/4-door to specify which version they have. It works just fine, so why would the company that is always advertising "simplicity," complicate it?