Why "the new iPad" is a terrible name


During Apple's new iPad event yesterday, I (among others) were waiting for the other shoe to drop: what are they going to name the new iPad? From the get-go, it was being only being referred to as "the new iPad". It was easy to sit through the various demos hanging my hat on the idea that Apple was being coy and would close things off with some flashy video with a big reveal punctuated by a snappy one-liner. "iPad 3 - we just revolutionized magic. Again." "iPad HD - your TV won't know what hit it." But one by one, we watched the new iPad apps come and go, until the event wrapped up with a colourful remix of Apple's classic logo and no further mention of the name was made.

Huh. I guess they're just calling it "the new iPad."

Scouring through the updated content posted on Apple's site, we have at best a mention to the "3rd.-generation iPad," but nothing so official as to imagine another name on the box. Once the reality started setting in, the scenarios for confusion rushed in a flood: would we still be calling it "the new iPad" in eight months? Would we have to qualify the name on our own terms, outside the blessing of Apple's marketing department, and if so, how consistent could that naming be? Will Apple drop "the new" from the website branding soon and leave us with just "iPad"? There are too many questions that are being raised just by a name; Apple has a reputation for being simple, but going this far is just obtuse.

I'm still having trouble understanding why Apple would even bother going this route. Sure, it streamlines things so consumers aren't overloaded with options. In theory, a mainstream shopper could walk into an Apple store, hold out their hand, and say "I want an iPad" and there wouldn't need to be any additional discussion because for all intents and purposes, there's only one iPad. Unfortunately, it won't work out that way because Apple will be selling the last generation for at least awhile. And the old generation is called "iPad 2".

The one with the number 2 on it is older, cheaper, and not as good as the one without the number 2 on it. That's more confusing than a Star Wars prequel.

After the iPad 2 is phased out, "the new iPad" will have a successor. If "the new iPad" is also kept around at a lower price, how then will Apple differentiate? How will customers tell them apart on the shelves? Unless Apple brings down the hammer and wipes out all of the old stock and replaces it with the newest models, nameless iPads are bound to cause a lot of confusion.

Sure, Apple has done this for years with Macs. The latest MacBook Air isn't MacBook Air 4, it's just MacBook Air. And Apple didn't keep the backlight-free MacBook Air 3, or the old design MacBook Air 2 on the shelves at a reduced price along with it.

Apple hasn't numbered iPods historically either. Then again, when Steve Jobs introduced the new iPod touch back in September 2010, he called it "the new iPod touch" but it wasn't branded that way on the keynote slides behind him like "the new iPad" was for Tim Cook.

Beyond sheer logistics, there's a nice continuity and narrative that sequential naming provides. The iPhone lineup has struck a nice rhythm with S-level iterative updates interspersing the big launches. You can put each and every iPhone on a timeline, and it makes sense. The iPad is now only three generations in and the ongoing story is getting muddled. In two years, having "the new iPad" in the middle of the timeline is going to look weird, especially if the next one returns to naming convention, even one as simple as "iPad 4". Even OS X has had solid delineation between between updates, even though it stopped numerical changes in branding years ago.

Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing was quoted yesterday as saying Apple chose to go with "the new iPad" so as to not be predictable. That's not a typical Apple answer, so it's possible Schiller was being coy. Their marketing is usually as incredibly focused and on point as their products. "Not being something" is different and less powerful than "being something".

Luckily, this naming mess is the only sour point in Apple's new product; the new iPad has LTE, a quad-core graphics processor, and a Retina display, which is all anyone really wanted. Yeah, NFC might have been nice, but it's far from a dealbreaker, and most of the other rumoured features, like electro-static feedback, were pretty far-fetched anyway. And who knows? Maybe Apple's marketing department couldn't settle on a name for the event, and are postponing the official branding for the launch next week. Then again, that's probably just wishful thinking on my part.

[Leanna disagrees with Simon completely and will be presenting a counter-editorial shortly - Ed.]

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

Why "the new iPad" is a terrible name


IMHO it is going to be this year and it will be iPad (4th gen). Maybe Apple's plans are to shorten product release cycle. Competition is getting way too close.

Wow this is stupid. The name is iPad. They have this for every other product they offer exept the iPhone. They are labeled by generations. Look at iPods. Mac. MacBook/ MacBook Pro. The only one that haven't done this is iPhone is is because that makes it easy for carriers to market and cut out. iPad is a computer and how many computer models come out with a number offer the name

I'm gonna side with Leanna on this one. At some point, the numbers have to stop. It's a lot less confusing to stop the numbers at generation 3 than it will be to stop the numbers on generation 5 with the iPhone. I'd bet a small sum of money that they'll do something similar with the next generation of iPhone.

"The New iPad" looks, to me, like an example of marketing "groupthink". For months, everyone thought they were going to call it "iPad 3". Then, days before the event, we heard "iPad HD".
In this case, they must have thought "Hey, let's not call it what they think we're gonna call it. Let's call it something different, something a little more out there. They will think it's genius."
Well, it's not genius. It's dumb. More importantly, it's confusing to the customer. Especially because they are keeping around the older iPad 2.
Anyway, just my 2 cents...

It is NOT called The New iPad. It happens to be the new iPad. Capitalization makes a difference. The name of the product, simply, is iPad. Like iMac, MacBook Air. It just so happense to be the newest one. I fully expect to be ordering myself an iPhone in October to replace my iPhone 4. During the presentation, it will be called the new iPhone, but not The New iPhone. I bet the numbers were a marketing thing. Now? It's back to basics. Like the father of all these devices, the iPod.

I think the name is fine. iPod Nanos were distinguished by generation number. This also has a generation number, so I suspect the reporting will likely converge to "iPad, 3rd gen," in the news articles. It is only one character longer than typing "the new iPad."

My guess: the dropping of the version number indicates the iPad is near maturity. That doesn't mean Apple won't improve it, but they've tricked out the things that are obvious: The 2 was lighter than the 1 and the "New" iPad's screen looks noticeably better than the 2. Get rid of the "4s" disappointment and just say "this is the iPad we offer this year". iPhone will surely be next. Nokia blew it calling all their devices "Lumia" and then add model numbers like 610, 800 and 900. The 610 looks nothing like the more expensive Lumia diminishing the brand.

Completely true that. The Lumia 800 is one of the nicest phones I've ever owned, I happily use both a 4S and a lumia and have a tough time deciding which i like best based on hardware. The lumia 710 is a cheap, nasty, plasticky phone, far far removed from its 800 bearing cousin.
On topic. Calling this new iPad anything but the new iPad would've been stupid. In ten years, when we're up to iPad 13, is that a good name? of course not. I refer to my iMac as a 'iMac late 2007' and when trying to find out if the new Apple TV is Bluetooth 4 I'm googling 'Apple TV 2012'. I have zero problem with referring to my iPad this way in the future.
Seems lees clunky to use years than gens.

Really, they've just brought it into line with the rest of the product line. The name is iPad. Just like iMac, MacBook, etc.

Chris, you are right on.
From a marketing standpoint this makes it an easier sell- especially to the uneducated consumer.
Most people reading this site want a number-3. But you are going to buy it anyway.
Put yourself in the place of the average dumb consumer and assume Apple can't make these fast enough. You are in best buy and the commission based employee asks you a few questions, never tells you the new one is out of stock and says THIS one (iPad 2) is just as good.
You believe him and buy it.

It's not really called the new iPad. It just can't iPad and they added "the new" so people know its not the old iPad 2

I agree that keeping "The New" on the website branding and keynote is confusing, but I have to say, even the iPad 2 says iPad on the box you buy it in and says iPad on the back as well.
So, my best guess is that sooner or later (no more than 6 months), "The New" will be dropped from the branding and it will only be iPad all the way, with price as a differentiator, and maybe keeping the name iPad 2 on the "economy" model.

The font of the new is thinner. It is not part of the name. I don't see it as part I the branding. It will disappear, like you say, I believe.

"the new" is simply a description for the iPad. Officially i have no doubt it is just the iPad. I agree with Leanna on this. I think its a move to simplify & unify things. Since Apple only launches a new iPad every year, i'm sure we can just call it the 2012 iPad, or 3rd Gen iPad.

This is a silly article.... IMO .
It's obvious they want to kill the numbers scheming and want to go with a generic naming. I.e. iPod nano.
No one says iPod nano 3 or 4... You just mention the gen so ppl know what you're talking about. It's not called the "new iPad"...
They're simply introducing the next gen iPad.
Tho this will only catch on until gen 4 next year.

Is this really going to an issue. It's called an iPad nuff said. I don't walk around telling people I just got myself a MacBook Air 3rd Gen, or that I still have an iPod Touch 2nd Gen. Heck when I pull out my phone, its just an iPhone!
When a customer goes to an Apple Store or Best Buy or where ever, they'll ask for the latest iPad. The sales person will point them to the one just released in 2012. If they want last years, released in 2011, they'll give them the iPad 2. No confusion.
What are you guys going to do when the call the iPhone an iPhone in the fall and not the iPhone 5!!!
It's such a non issue that only an Apple Blog could be upset by these. The regular consumer couldn't give two craps.

Well if you work in retail your commanded to sell the older ones first.
The gens will be mentioned to those bargain scavenging.

Since the new iPhone will be the 6th iPhone, I'm pretty sure they won't call it the iPhone 5.
Somewhere they are going to need to designate them, at least with a year stamped on it somewhere. How else will uses know if they can run an app or iOS upgrade?

"How else will uses know if they can run an app or iOS upgrade?"
Same way they have done with Macs for decades.
My "Macbook Pro" won't run Lion but my nephew's
Macbook Pro" will run Lion. Not that big of an issue.

well when it comes out intially it will not do nraely as much as a laptop will in time it might be more of an option but no one can honestly recommend one over a laptop at this point..ecspecially for college like for writing papers and stuff you'll need a real PC.

The name iPAD 3 had been registered in many ways, and not by Apple. You see when you become predictable with names and also super wealthy as Apple has become, then the really smart people come out from under the rugs and create products that use Apple's naming conventions and then ask Apple to buy them out.
So Apple is being smart here and using a name they fully own.

So... when I bought one of "The New MacBook Pro"s last year when they were refreshed, it should have been called The MacBook Pro 7? Seriously? What is wrong with you? This brings iPads inline with Apple's other products. Would make sense also if they consider this to be a Post PC era... oh wait, that's right. They do.
I can't believe how many nerdy blog posts have appeared about this non-issue. Maybe we could see some more discussion re Jar Jar Binks and how awful George Lucas was for creating him?

Brilliant marketing. You wrote about it and we read it and many commented - just on the name.
Kudos to Apple

its in-line with the Mac lineup now and its ironic now how people are saying we need numbers yet have you ever tried to talk to a non-techie about the specs of an iPhone 4s? They see advertisements on TV for 4G speeds and see iPhone 4s and think that it has it.. I think this is Apples way of differentiating the cellular technology from the device. The iPhone 4s doesn't have 4G, but the iPad 3 doesn't?? The iPad 3 is 4G but the iPad 2 is 3G? It creates confusion. Apple simplified the confusion.

They're only calling it "The New iPad" for the current marketing campaign, much like they refer to "The All-New iMac" when new rev comes out. It will, in time, just be referred as "iPad." It's a good idea, and the way it should be.

I don't know why people worry about the name so much. Before the first iPad came out they were saying the name sounds like a tampon. Who cares?

Great point....Tech bloggers and news outlets like CNBC just couldn't stop with the iPad jokes.
Now, everytime I turn on CNBC what do they have in front of them?

I don't see it as confusing consumers. Last year's iPad will be asked for as the iPad 2. This will be referred to as the "New iPad" until next year and who knows but them, what they might be calling it by then. Can't wait to hear Leanna's thoughts on this topic.

This is a stupid non-issue, and you're stupid for writing about, and I'm stupid for reading it, and everyone else is stupid for reading what this post. Hahaha...

The boxes for the iPad 2 just say "iPad". The signage says "iPad 2" but the boxes just say iPad.
Just Google "iPad 2 Unboxing" and you'll see....

By the way, the back of my iPad 2 says "iPad" on it, so which is it???
This is a ridiculous article and I am surprised the author was able to write more than one paragraph about this.

They're just trying to move to a more standard (for them) naming scheme that never disappoints or creates false expectations. The 4S was one of the biggest jumps in hardware the phone has experienced yet because it wasn't called the 5 and because the exterior didn't change the public and media reacted negatively. Most people wouldn't admit it, but that was bad marketing on Apple's part.

I think that Apple tried to simplify the way we will ask for the new iPad, I see most of the people asking not for the "iPad 2" instead, all of us will ask for "the new" iPad into the retailers... I think is a very clever way to distinguish both iPads from the shelves and the way we can get "the new one"

You idiots can't figure out why they wrote the article? Look up^^ there's 40 reasons right there. Not a whole lot. But you all apparently had something to say about it. Now you have.

Terrible name? Tell that to my MacBook Pro 6 or my iMac 4. Oh yea, they don't do that for their other products.

It's amazing how bad some people are at reading the English language. "The new iPad" is NOT a name - it is a statement to fact, as in "this is the new iPad". This is no differ than when they come out with a "new Macbook Air" or a "new iPod Touch". If they wanted to NAME it that way, the "new" would be capitalized, as in "The New iPad". That iMore (a really stupid name compared to TiPb, IMHO) is harping on this is ridiculous - during the live podcast during the announcement yesterday the complaining you did over this just sounded like teenagers looking for something to bish about.

I cannot wait in 69 years to get my hands on the iPad 72...oh wait that's about the lamest thing you could ever call a product. Apple is clean and simple. Last time I checked they weren't calling it the Mac Book Pro 8. Numbers are for failing companies like Blackberry. Get it through your head they are going to stop numbering their products and it's a very smart move. And as for differentiation they'll use 2ed and 3rd generation if needed.

it depends on what you plan to use it for. if you want to use it for fun and games (nothing more than what you would use your icuoth for), and you have the money, then go ahead. BUT- if you want to use it as more of an actual computer: it definitely is not comparable to what the PC market has defined as a tablet computer. for one thing, it only has a max of 64 GB of flash memory, which doesn\'t mean anything if you wanted to use it as a regular business laptop type thing. (64 GB of flash memory is nothing compared to the amount of storage a normal tablet pc has). if it had a normal amount of storage, i think if someone were really determined, they could make it work as a regular computer for them. it has the capabilities of a laptop, like it has a full keyboard and stuff. the problem is that since the keyboard is on the screen, it\'s really hard to type on unless you buy the case (which seems to have been specifically made so that you could type more easily on the ipad). and the other big problem is that it only works with iwork, which is apple\'s version of office. and iwork isn\'t compatible with office (like it doesn\'t use .doc/.xls/.ppt), which severely limits its usability. basically the ipad is just icandy (haha)

Get used to it. Look, if you think about it a second, the naming convention of MacBook Pro, iMac, etc. don't have a number after it. Yet, when you walk into a store and ask for one, you're guaranteed that you're probably going to be sold the current (most current) model of the device. That's the same principal here. And going forward, the iPhone will follow suit. If you want an iPad, you ask for an iPad and you get the latest hardware. If you want an iPhone, you ask for it and you get the latest iPhone hardware. WTF is so hard to grasp?
For those who will be buying used, they'll just have to do a little part number or model number lookup and see what they're getting, similar to if you're buying another Apple product now. They all have revision numbers, going forward, the iOS devices will follow this pattern as well. Stop screaming and crying over nothing. This is how it will be. No more numbers because they're stupid.

The only problem with people saying that the next iPhone will be called the "new iPhone" is that Apple would have to kill off the selling of the iPhone3Gs, iPhone4, and iPhone4s. I don't think Apple wants to cannabalize the sales of its economy or entry level phones.

The whole discussion regarding the name of the "new" iPad is completely stupid.
You want to know what the name of it is? iPad. It's not the new iPad, it's not the iPad 3... it's just the iPad.
Just like the MacBook Air is the MacBook Air no matter the refresh cycles to it's components and the MacBook Pro is just the MacBook Pro and the iMac is just the iMac.
They referred to it as the new iPad because well... it's the new iPad. Just like when discussing any new product you'd say the new insert product name here.
But I guess people need something stupid to write about so they will make a story out of nothing. Idiots.

It is going to be iPad from now on is what I think because it is not iMac 30 or iPod 10, just reference them by year.

Is this really that big of a deal to people? I think most sites are blowing this far out of proportion. Regardless of whether there is a number after it, or "New" before it, it's still just iPad.
Cant we just be content with that?

Well maybe they are doing this only for this year. When and if the "ipad mini" is released as a less expensive alternative, there won't be a need for last years model anymore. Might just sell them as refurbished like they do with there computers.

It's the new iPad, of simply the newest iPad. It's name isn't "The New iPad". C'mon, people. They dropped the number. That's all.

Look at all the free press iPad is getting here. Yes, there are people that stumble across iMore, and have no idea what an iPad even is. They will check it out, and may be buy. As far as iMore. It is easy to remember. The correct name for the old blog was TiPb. I think only ten people would type it that way. We have gone beyond just the iPhone. May be we should have a contes on naming the site, but no matter the name for this blog, or iPad (whatever), this is the best blog to talk about, and learn things. You think this blog is hard on readers sometimes, you should check out coffee geeks, and tell them you like Statbucks.

The name is not "the new iPad". It is "iPad".
The only people who care are bloggers who should already know that Apple has provided a qualifier which is "(third generation)". This is seen when placing a pre-order. The bloggers should also know that Apple has been following naming conventions without suffixes in other products for years. Is such a long story really necessary when the answer is so simple?

I don't care what they name stuff. iMore is a crappy name too. So was Tipb. It read like Tibbs anyways. It's not that important.
It's not called the "The New iPad." New is merely a description. It is from now on just The iPad.
Numbers are needless. And get used to it because sooner or later it will just be the Iphone.

Worst excuse for an article on this site ever.
Take from MacRumors and sums up my opinion on the naming.
This may seem like a pointless ranting thread, but it genuinely irritates me how people can be stupid enough to think that the product is actually called "New iPad". How can they not understand it's just called iPad and that the "new" is to refer to the fact that it's newer than it's predecessor?
I just can't believe some people are stupid enough to think it's as if we have the "iPad" -> "iPad 2" -> "New iPad"... You can't possibly be that stupid to believe such a thing... And then actually go on about how stupid you think the name is, when it's not even it's name in the first place! So irritating :/
Regardless, I think this is a very nice update. Another stupidity is people thinking "hur dur no redesign, this is not a worthy update!". I think they can't get around to understanding how big it is that this has a retina screen now. It may not be thinner, or have a glass back, but that doesn't mean it's not a good update.

"After the iPad 2 is phased out, “the new iPad” will have a successor. If “the new iPad” is also kept around at a lower price, how then will Apple differentiate? How will customers tell them apart on the shelves? Unless Apple brings down the hammer and wipes out all of the old stock and replaces it with the newest models, nameless iPads are bound to cause a lot of confusion."
iPad 2 box looks like iPad box with iPad at different angle. Forget?

I noticed that and it confused me. I'm usually not confused by iPod nanos since they usually have a different design. Then again, Apple has tight control on the retail front. So...

What I can't believe is the fact that anyone actually thinks Apple customers will be "confused" because the iPad has dropped the numbering from their naming scheme. If they're confused as to which iPad is the new one, then the problem doesn't lie with the name.

I'm surprised at how many tech sites and bloggers actually think the new iPad is actually called "The New iPad". People, Apple just dropped the number suffix. From now on, it's just "iPad". "New" is a descriptor. When you place your order on the Apple website, it's designated as "iPad (3rd generation)". Man, how do you guys end up in this line of work?

Got to agree about the name, I'm just waiting for the 'new new iPad' next year and the 'new iPhone' this year.

A '68 Ford Mustang is still a Ford Mustang. And a 2012 Ford Mustang is still a Ford Mustang. We use years to differentiate the various models. Forget '3rd Gen' or '24th Gen'. Apple only refreshes their lineup once per year (with the occasional exception). So this iPad is the 2012 iPad. Get with it. When you buy a car you are with it.

Reading that was the biggest waste of my time. It's called iPad! They refer to it as the new iPad bc it's new. Like how you say "this is my new car." It's really just your car, but you'll say in the beginning it's new. I can't believe this idiot doesn't get that. You really think they're gonna keep up w the numbers? iPad 8? iPhone 13? Get real.

Apple kind of pissed me off wtih the name. Its like they're holding back. Come on Apple, you guys are marketing geniuses!They shoulda waited at least until the 4th or 5th iteration..
At least its not like they have Galaxy S, Galaxy Y, Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Note.

Guy walks into a store "can i get an ipad please'
sales person "sure we have 2 models, one comes with a retina display and 5megapixel camera and the other doesnt"
You dont need a number to distinguish between them, this is the stupidest thing ive EVER heard. Same as when people shop for Macbooks/Ipods/Mobile phones. They will just look at the hardware specs/feautures and pick the one that best suits them. The fact it has a 2 or 3 or 675 after make no difference whatsoever! The ONLY reason people are kicking off about the number is because they want to be able to say to people "i have the ipad 3" its purely bragging rights! pathetic!!

No you definitely don't need to get an ipad. Just busceae they came out with a new product it doesn't mean it replaces your other Apple products by anymeans. With the Mac Pro and Iphone 3GS you got more than enough firepower.

yh but but 100 pounds is worth payin for a virus pamgrrom its not that expensive, i just think a lap top is way better than that. apple sells a pair of earphones for 35 euros. its a joke

I'm really surprised that "Friends with Benefits" isn't on this list. It allows you to change themes for the full Facebook website (around 20 available), remove ads and chat. I've tried all the others and I keep coming back to this one. It's a bit of a risky name, but a GREAT app!

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Hi, can someone tell me how to come back to the initial screen? I click on desktop, but then i don't know how to get back to the "new" screen and features (it's not the usual windows button at the bottom left).

It's an interesting thought that Foose designs are now the coachbuilt cars of the past. I think there's something to it, although I would question the taste of some of the builders. Chip has very good taste, and that's the difference. As a collector I have a policy of driving everything I own; I'm not running a Museum. I can drive a lot of what Foose builds, which is not true of others, either because of the initial expense (if I have an accident, who is going to fix it?) or because the engineering won't allow it.

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