Why doesn't the 'new iPad' have a name?

Published On: Mar 15 2012 02:20:40 PM CDT

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

iPad 3 (2012) -- Phil Schiller, senior VP of Worldwide Marketing, speaks about the new iPad's specific features during an Apple event.

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -

At the pep rally where Apple debuted its third-generation tablet computer, one question was on everyone's lips: So, what do we call this thing?

The answer, according to an Apple spokesman: "It's just 'iPad.' It's what it is."

Or it is what it isn't. It's not the iPad 3, and it's not the iPad HD. Both names were widely rumored before Apple's coming-out party for the device on Wednesday in San Francisco. It's not New iPad, which is what people on Twitter started calling it during a nearly 90-minute press conference about the device.

The longer Apple execs talked about the tablet computer's new features -- better screen, faster connection -- without actually giving it a name, the more anxious the People of the Internet became.

"Come on Apple, name it already," one person wrote.

"Is it an Anonymous iPad?" asked another.

Tech writer Omar Gallaga: "Screw it, I'm just going to call it 'Lover.' "

At a demo of the device after the press conference, the topic was widely discussed among technology journalists, who were trying to confirm what to call the thing.

"It's the new iPad. What are you talking about?" another Apple spokeswoman said, as if it's common for updated devices to come out with the same names as their predecessors.

Perhaps this naming convention -- sticking with a singular product name without numbers or the names of cats to follow it -- isn't entirely new for Apple. One journalist pointed out that the iPod follows the same tack.

But there still seems to be potential for confusion, especially since the first-generation iPad was just called "iPad" and the next one was called "iPad 2." If someone were selling one of these new iPads on Craigslist next year, what would they call it?

"So this is the 'New iPad,' " said Nick Bilton, a tech writer for The New York Times. "Is the next one going to be called the 'New-New iPad'? Where do they go from there?"

Maybe "iPad 4." That would seem logical if unlikely at this point.

On the other hand, Apple has been through this sort of thing before.

When the first iPad came out, people online were comparing it to a high-tech tampon.

"I don't think it will be a big deal," Ina Fried, a writer for the AllThingsD blog, said of the whole iPad name debate. "If you recall, people didn't like the name iPad when it first came out. They seem to have sold a few of them."

A few million, that is. The company says it has sold 55 million iPads since the device debuted two years ago. When it comes to tablets, Apple's competitors are scrambling to catch up.

It probably would take more than a name snafu to change that.

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