Lisa Merriam

Hitting the Brakes: Google Speedbook Naming Disaster

The launch of the Google 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 Google Speedbook is a terrible name not worth fighting for.


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. Google 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 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.

Naming How-To:

Naming Mistakes
Six Factors for a Memorable and Motivating Name
History of Best Known Brands
Styles and Types of Brands
Choosing a Name
Try a Recycled Name
Web 2.0 Naming Considerations
What is Brand Architecture
Approaches to Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture and Business Strategy

Companies and Products:

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Macy’s Blunder with Marshall Field’s Name Change
Banks and the Name Game from Bank Marketing Magazine
AIG Name Change to AIU
Breaking Up the Motorola Brand
Google’s Speedbook Disaster
Renaming a Small Business
Proxios CEO Talks About Renaming Process
Naming a Green Sportswear Company
Unintentionally Funny Names-BARF
Unintentionally Funny Names-Putzmeister
Unintentionally Funny Names-Bimbo
Renaming a $2 Billion IPG Agency
Renaming Iraqi Freedom
Selected Naming Portfolio