Hitting the Brakes: Google Speedbook Naming Disaster

Oct 112010

Google’s launch of the Speedbook tablet PC has hit the brakes. The company had hoped to make tracks challenging Apple’s iPad in the tablet PC market–just in time for the holiday gift buying season. Instead Speedbook has landed Google in naming hell. A small technology company CollegeNet has challenged the company’s trademark filing. The legal challenge to the Speedbook name could potentially doom the product. And the shame of it is that Speedbook is a terrible name not worth fighting for.

Google Speedbook Prototype

Trademark Battle Legals Costs and Time Costs

The costs of the trademark challenge to Google are significant. Aside from the legal cost of pushing the name through the courts is bigger problem of the time cost. To get Speedbook to market in time for the holidays, Google is already far along in developing marketing, packaging and merchandising materials. Any delay in granting the Speedbook trademark will cause Google to miss this critical window of opportunity. In all likelihood, the holiday shopping rush will be history before the company can ship a rebranded product.

Trying to Trademark a Generic Name

The real naming debacle is that the Speedbook name that isn’t even a good one. The “book” idea for laptop and tablet computers is an overused cliche. Arch-competitor Apple already dominates with its Macbook. Then there is Panasonic’s Toughbook, Axiotron’s Modbook, Dialog’s Flybook, Acorn’s Deskbook, Pace Blade’s Slimbook, Fujitsu’s Lifebook, Toshiba’s Dynabook and HP has a Probook, Omnibook and Elitebook. How could Speedbook ever hope to stand out with such a generic name? Brand names need to be unique to distinguish a product from the competition, unusual in order to get attention and be memorable, and meaningfully vivid to have any branding power. Speedbook loses all around.

Google’s Answer to Apple iPad Should be an Iconic Brand

Google will most likely win the trademark battle, but at great cost for little gain. The cost of the court challenge delay along with the weakness of the Speedbook as a brand should give Google pause. Google is better off choosing a name with iconic brand power and doing it with great speed.

More on Naming:
Six Factors for a Memorable, Motivating Brand Name
History of Great Brand Names: How Best Known Brands Were Named
Styles and Types of Company and Product Names
How to Choose a Name
Naming in Our Web 2.0 World
Does Your Approach to Naming Your Company Products and Services Support Your Business Strategy?

How Different Companies Have Approached Naming Products and Services
Case Study: Rebranding Proxios
Selected Name Portfolio

© 2014 Lisa Merriam