What Do the iPad and Heroin Have in Common?


And no, the answer I’m looking for does not include the word addiction, but that works too.

I was thinking more along the lines of the iPad following in heroin’s footsteps, making the long and winding journey from retail shelves to the pages of a dictionary.

Aspirin, Kleenex, zipper, and heroin (brought to market by Bayer in 1898) all did it. Once leading consumer products, they metamorphosed into household names, and sometimes were even stripped of their capital letters.

We used and abused them. We were anything but brand‑loyal. We called any old tissue a Kleenex. We swallowed Tylenol and called it Aspirin. And now Mae Anderson argues in her article, “Apple’s ‘iPad’ is the only tablet people know,” that the iPad could suffer the same fate.

Her argument: the iPad is the first tablet, and the one that most people are familiar with, which makes the word iPad a likely victim for genericide.

Maybe, maybe not.

To Apple devotees, the iPad is more than a tablet—it’s a culture, a style, an experience.

One Mac user claims that he “would never be caught dead with a BlackBerry PlayBook,” and I can only imagine some poor sod calling his Samsung Galaxy an iPad in public. I picture blood.

For the moment, the iPad and heroin don’t have much in common and the iPad seems safe from becoming a common noun. But could that change once the novelty wears off?


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