"What's in a name? That which we call a Tablet by any other name would still be an iPad."
This is all from my experience working at a Best Buy in the last year.
This is what many consumers believe to be true, even though this is one area Samsung had a small victory over Apple; over one month ago in their ongoing patent trial. The iPad/iPad 2 trade dress and design patent claims were the one area Samsung had a decisive victory in the jury's ruling.
It is easy to see how nine jury members could come to this conclusion, having both the iPad and Galaxy Tab side by side for comparison with a checklist of questions to answer. But most consumers walking into a Best Buy or another electronic retailer have never touched or seen an iPad/Android tablet before. All they know is that they have heard "iPad" and want to know more about it. The trouble is most consumers are not aware that Apple is the sole maker of iPad's; that there are other tablets available not called iPad and what their differences truly are.
An iPad is a tablet, but not all tablets are iPad's.
Most of the people I have helped purchase a tablet in the last year have heard of an iPad in one way or another, but it seems that for most of them iPad has become synonymous with tablet. You would think that Apple must be loving this because anytime someone asks for an "iPad", we as sales associates take them right to "Apple's iPad" and not their competitors. Recently though, customers have been asking, "Isn't there a cheaper iPad?" We then go through the whole pricing of the iPad 2 and New iPad for them. $399 is still a lot of money for many to comprehend on a device like this.
If they still seem unsure about the price I will show them lesser priced "iPad's" that they might be interested in. The thing is, I always call these other "iPad's" tablets, including several from Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, Asus, among many others.
"The Customer thought it was an iPad 2."
I know that Samsung isn't the only company producing tablets that are being confused as iPad's, so here are a few memorable interactions I have had, clearly having some effect on Apple's trade dress and intellectual property.
"Where are the iPad's?"
"Right over here."
"No, the Lenovo one for $200."
I then had to go through the differences for them, still they only wanted to spend the $200 on this one.
"I bought an iPad last week and would like a case for it."
"OK, this whole wall here, and here are all for the iPad."
"I have this iPad though." Pointing to this.
"We only have one or two cases for that device, they are over here."
These examples are clearly some of the most confused customers, and it seems to be only between the iPad and true Android tablets. I have yet to see anyone call/confuse the Amazon Kindle Fire or Nook Color/Tablet for an iPad. These are both technically Android devices but because of their customization's they are few similarities with their stock counterparts. I believe part of this reason is because the Kindle and Nook brand names have been around longer than the iPad has. Also, when is the last time you saw an ad for an iPad/tablet in the last few years that wasn't for one of these three devices. ( I know recently Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 ads have shown up, but not in comparison to what Apple, Amazon or Barnes and Noble have done.)
My point is that it was very obvious after the iPhone came out, all other cell phone manufactures wanted something they could call "similar" or "just like" and iPhone. My brother and sister, only in high school at the time, were looking for their first cell phone. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on the phone or required data plan for that matter; the salesman at AT&T recommended a Samsung Eternity as an alternative.
"It's just like and iPhone."
This was no smart phone, just a feature phone that they were fairly happy with for two years. It clearly resembles the iPhone 3g with its silver frame and overall design.
Going back to the trial, the jury found the trade dress of the iPhone 3g to be protectable and famous. This phone was not included in the trial because it isn't a smart phone, but most, if not all of the original Samsung Galaxy S phones were. After their two year contract was up in late 2010, they were looking for an upgrade to a smart phone this time.
Again, not wanting to spend the extra money for the iPhone 4 at that time, they were suggested a Samsung Captivate. Android at this time was picking up speed and had a lot, if not all of the features of the iPhone. And because the Samsung Galaxy S phones at this time tried to imitate the iPhone, the jury found it easy to sway the verdict Apple's way.
Android and the manufactures of smart phones who use this operating system have grown substantially in the last few years and they have easily differentiated themselves with their recent releases. Most consumers don't confuse or use iPhone as a synonym for smart phone any more these days. With this trial, Apple was just looking for recuperation of what it deserved for all of the hard work in design and advertising it had done. I believe the verdict of the jury on the phone side was a fair one, representing the punishment for needed for this type of patent and trade dress infringement.
Getting back to the iPad trade dress and patent infringement, the jury I feel ruled incorrectly in this area, especially in the trade dress and IP of the iPad. If one of the jurors had been an electronic retail sales person, the insight they could have provided during this part of the judgment would have been crucial for Apple's case. As you can see, most consumers are still confused on what an iPad truly is, how it's different from Android tablets and soon to be Windows 8 tablets. Apple, in my opinion, should be rewarded for its great marketing once again with the iPad; making it a synonym for tablet, just as it was with the iPhone and smart phone not that long ago.