iPad is described as the magical window where nothing comes between you and what you love. If the capital P becomes at risk for deflation then it becomes a nominee for a new dictionary word to mean tablet computers. The magic of Apple disappearing by the generic use of iPad is a ghastly look.
Apple dominated the tablet category with nearly 75% market share in 2011, but its share is dropping because of an increase in competition. The generic use of a brand name allows the competition to accelerate the sales process in the short term. Major brands like Microsoft and Amazon are not arriving to the market with the use of iPad, but their customers may use the term to refer to their products. Customers may not be mistaken by the actual brand, but they’ll begin to cross attributes between brands. The users of Microsoft “iPads” allow them to find what they love through the lens of a different brand.
It’s been pointed out that the generic use of iPod gave Apple a boost in the market. Others say the conversation around iPad genericide is overreaction as we all said the same thing about the risks of the generic use of Google. The difference is we live in a post Steve Jobs era. Does Apple really want to share Jobs’ legacy with other brands?
Interbrand advises brands to actively protect against genericide to drive choice, promote loyalty and command a premium. Trademarks protect identity and guide the market real estate for brands to promote its persona and interactions with their audiences. They are the promise of the brand, which serves as a sign of trust and strengthens customer loyalty. Create market share dominance through loyalty over genericide. Also, trademarks allow brands to differentiate, whereas generic use only serves to inform consumers.
What do you think? Does Apple need to protect the capital P to indicate the differentiation of iPad from other brands? Does anything happen to the legacy of Steve Jobs over the next 10 to 15 years if they don’t protect it? What could a lack of legacy mean for Apple?
Kathryn Geraghty is a Trademark Consultant in Interbrand's Verbal Identity group.