Businesses seem to use the names of their products as weapons. A well-chosen name can force you to connect the product with almost any image or concept. I deem a product name to be deliberatley confusing and generic when it seeks to appropriate meanings that make it more difficult to think clearly. Businesses use these when they want to subtly convince you that their product or service is the original, best or only alternative. It is an insidious technique, because it makes it difficult to talk about the alternatives by messing with the language you might use to do this. It's easy to get snared up in an Abbott and Costello routine.

Examples

"Word"

You can't talk about word processors without using the word "word". Microsoft's word processor is called Word. Word. See how, by the name alone, Word sounds like the original, standard word processor. All others now sound like derivative products: Word Perfect, AbiWord etc.

"DB2"

DB2 is IBM's major RDBMS- a database to you and me. It's a competitor of Oracle. Databases are often refered to simply as "DBs", unsurprisingly.

"Windows"

Most GUIs (read; just about everything you've ever used or seen) present information in movable, resizeable, stackable regions of the display. Such are called windows. The systems that use them, and other supporting elements are known as WIMPs- windows, icons, menus, pointer. Systems that use windows include MacOS, BeOS, AmigaOS, X11, and ummm, Windows. Microsoft do it again! This time they might have bitten off more than they can chew. Chief U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, presiding over a case where MS is trying to contest a product called Lindows remarked that there are "serious questions regarding whether 'Windows' is a non-generic name and thus eligible for the protections of federal trademark law".

".NET"

There's more. .NET is a new set of technologies, again from Microsoft, that constitute a jumped-up virtual machine and an associated branding extravaganza. It is being pushed as a solution for Web Services- the delivery of application components over the web. ".net" is also a TLD that appears at the end of domain names on the Internet. The waters are muddied again. Now, you can't talk easily about how to deploy network computing without thinking of the new MS technologies. Also, you can now start new sentences with a period/full stop!

"Palm"

"Palmtop", like "Laptop" and "Desktop" used to be a generic name for a computer form-factor. Now it's associated with a particular palmtop platform. The other main platform has to use the name Pocket.

"Your Communications"

Your Communications (www.yourcommunications.co.uk) is a British company (part of the United Utilities Group) that provides voice, data, Internet and mobile connectivity to businesses, mainly in the North and Midlands of England. Imagine trying to tell your boss about what service providers they might go for.
"You can go for BT, C&W or Your Communications."
"My communications?"
You are given a false sense of ownership and attachment to the firm, just by their name. Sneaky.

"My Computer"

In a similar vein to the above, really. This is the icon on a Windows desktop that opens a window containing all the drives on the PC. As dev.null points out, this paradoxically points to your computer. You could see this pronounal confusion as a charming attempt to empower the user and give them a sense of control. But, somebody at MS had to type in the word "my" knowing that it would appear on the vast majority of the world's PCs. That guy 0nz j00.

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