WHAT’S IN A NAME, PART 3?….4?….5?

Just as the trade name threat from Smartbook AG seemed to become less aggressive, media misrepresentation of Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs’ speech dubbed the smartbook prematurely dead.  We are happy to report that at least one China-based company, Always Innovating, disagrees – but with a catch.  It calls its latest tablet computer the “Smart Book”, a naming convention sure to drive editors crazy and possibly starting a new stampede to rebrand netbooks as “Net Books.”

The problem in the segmentation of either smart book or net book, of course, is that either could be confused with e-readers, something more likely to take place with tablet computers, since the best such platforms are supposed to compete with the likes of Kindle and Nook, as well as iPad.  So what do we say over the dual-word smart book or net book?  Does a space between adjective and noun indicate that there is a necessity of offering a tablet form factor?  Should a compound word indicate either a hard keyboard or a hybrid device?

Always Innovating’s Smart Book device follows the smartbook hardware rule of being based on an ARM Cortex-A8.  It uses a capacitive touchscreen, to be sure, but it’s more than a net book or a smart book – it has a small touchscreen phone device separate from the compute platform, called “Mini Book.”  Nice concept, but if one is aiming for integration, offering the equivalent of a smartphone as a bundled device seems, well, strange – but then again, many elements of the strategy seem a bit strange.

We would be remiss in this latest naming conundrum if we did not mention that Rich Beyer, CEO of Freescale Semiconductor, told Forbes blogger Elizabeth Woyke he was sure the smartbook name would live again – that is, if it every truly died.  It’s no surprise Beyer would think that way, since the Freescale ARM-based i.MX is a strong contender as a smartbook processor, and Freescale has its own blog focusing on smartbooks.  But we wonder how Beyer might weigh in on “smart books” – or on “net books,” for that matter.

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