Over the last 18 months we’ve seen the rise of two things (well, at least two): Low cost, low powered notebooks and a common name for this type of device: netbooks. Unfortunately, the term netbook is a registered trademark of Psion, a company that put out a device back in the early part of the millenium bearing that name. Psion hasn’t released a computing device under the netbook name since 2003, but the company does still offer peripherals.
Psion sort of came out of the wordwork and started making moves to protect its trademark a few months ago. In fact, this month Google agreed that Psion has a valid claim to the trademark and started banning advertisers from using the term. But it’s arguable that the damage was done. “Mini-laptop,” “mini-notebook,” and “cheap-ass ultraportable” just don’t have the same ring as “netbook.”
I’ve never been a huge fan of the word, because it implies that these laptops are only good for surfing the web, and not for serious computing like editing Office docs or even playing games. And they’re certainly capable of doing both of those things. But some people feel a bit more strongly about this case of semantics than I do. Case in point: The Save The Netbooks campaign. Psion has said that it will give companies, bloggers, and journalists profiting off of the netbook name until the end of March to start using a different term. The campaign is web page has a countdown clock and basically serves as a call to action to take back the word.
What do you think? Does it matter what we call these computers, or if companies keep pumping out sub-$400 mini-laptops that suit your needs, would you be satisfied calling them Slartibartfast?