smartbook ag

In an effort to differentiate ARM-powered, always-on, low-power mini-laptops from the more traditional PC-like netbooks that have flooded the market over the past two years, Qualcomm started suggesting we refer to the new machines as “smartbooks” earlier this year. The folks at German company Smartbook AG weren’t too pleased with that, and a few months ago the two companies got into a little tussle.

Now it looks like Smartbook AG is starting to go after bloggers and the press.

On the one hand, this all feels a lot like the trademark battle over the term “netbook.” Electronics maker Psion held the trademark for a device that it had produced a few years ago and which it insisted was still being sold. But after a few rounds of back and forth, Psion reached a settlement with some of the powers-that-want-the-term-to-be generic. On the other hand, I’m not sure that “smartbook” is generic. It’s not as widely used as smartbook, and while it does a nice job of describing a product class that sits somewhere between a netbook and a smartphone, there are plenty of other words that could be used to describe these new and upcoming devices.

Netbook points out that Smartbook AG doesn’t exactly have an extensive line of mini-laptops, and it’s not clear that calling these new devices smartbooks is going to damage the company’s standing in any way.

I’m not a lawyer and I really don’t know how this will all shake out. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re headed for another settlement… or if smartbooks end up going by a different name in Germany only.

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7 replies on “We may have to come up with a new name for smartbooks… but probably not”

  1. I still think netbook is the good enough term for all small computers. But maybe the convergence of netbooks, ultraportables, UMPCs, and ‘Readers’ will mean we need a new name for all of those devices as they combine.

  2. Web-book is OK, but it means about the same thing as netbook (web~net). There have been other cases like this (“rolling ball pen” was used to distinguish a pen with less viscous ink from “ball point pens,” though both had rolling balls.) But I think it would be better to use a name that would at least suggest a point in which smartbooks differ from netbooks.I’ve suggested “netpad” before. A writing pad is smaller than a writing notebook but otherwise has a similar function. Netpad isn’t as catchy sounding as smartbook, but these are humble little devices, so I think it fits :).

    “Smartpad” would be pretty good too and would shut up our Psion friends.

  3. I’ve thought ARMbook would be good from the beginning, especially for geeky types, but I have to admit it would not have the mass market appeal of smartbook, including the associations with smartphone, Smart car, etc. I guess Joe and Jane Sixpack might wonder if it had to do with munitions or anatomical parts :).

  4. ARMpit :} it has the arm processor, it fits under your arm/ Whats not to like?

    1. Except the ones running MIPS, what will we call those?
      They stand a chance of becoming a hit also, call them:
      (re-write that name anyway you like)

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