Do you know how you can tell when your product has “made it” It is when other products that are similar are called your products name. For instance when most people ask for a tissue they are just as likely to say “Kleenex” as anything else. Of course when people are talking about an mp3 player they will call it an ipod even if it were made by Creative or Sansa. I am guilty of this as well and I even have a bias against ipods because I don’t like the way they lock you into just their services. I make an effort not to call my Zen an ipod but I do it about 60% of the time then have to correct myself. I think I do it because subconsciously I know the person to whom I am speaking will likely not understand what a Zen is but will know what an ipod is most of the time. It must really be a tremendous help to your marketing team when the product you want to sell is promoted every second of everyday by so many people using them and using the product name even when it does not apply.
The iphone has not reached this pinnacle yet and I doubt it will. There were many cell phones before it came out so it is just very, very popular. It did not start a tidal wave of cell phone use. Apple did not invent the first mp3 player but they certainly did invent the most popular one. Think about how big your company would be if your main product’s branded name replaced the generic name for a device or material. It does not happen often. Even some of the most popular brands in the world have not reached ipod status. John Deere is a beloved product but people still say “tractor” instead of I need a new “Deere”.