By Harry McCracken | Friday, December 25, 2009 at 11:49 pm
I’ve been enjoying the holiday (Merry Christmas!) and refraining from blogging today, but I’d be remiss if I let any more time pass without a quick acknowledgment of the flurry of speculation that the Apple tablet–the one we don’t officially know exists yet–will be called the iSlate. There seems to be plenty of evidence that Apple’s interested in that name, but that’s not definitive proof that the tablet will get the moniker. It might just mean that Apple’s pre-emptively taking steps to prevent anyone else from using it.
There does seem to be a certain logic in the name, though, if we assume that the tablet is more akin to a giant iPod Touch than a keyboardless Mac. It’d be startling if it didn’t have the “i” prefix, for one thing. And it would be equally startling if it did have “tablet” in its name–that word brings to mind all sorts of specific assumptions about form factor, input methods, and the like, most of them associated with Microsoft’s failed Tablet PC. An Apple tablet would likely be radically different from the Tablet PC in most ways that matter, so why suggest a link through a similar name? Especially when you could use a different term that you’ve trademarked, so you don’t find yourself competing with knockoff “slates?”
Oldtimers like myself will remember other examples of the use of “slate” as a synonym for “tablet”–most notably Slate Corporation, an early-1990s company which made applications for Microsoft’s first failed tablet platform…