People say “Kleenex” when they’re going to use a tissue. They reach for a “Band-Aid” rather than a bandage when looking to cover a cut. And they “Skype” whenever they want to converse online or host videos privately.

Now, Apple is hoping to add a new brand name to the generic trademark lexicon: iPad. This past week, the company announced its latest version of its signature tablet product. Analysts predicted that this version would be called the iPad 3, or the iPad HD, or perhaps even the iPad 2 HD. But nobody expected that Apple would just take away all the frills and simply call the new model “iPad” – yes, that’s it.

The new iPad comes with an improved screen, a fast A5X graphics chip, and a $499 price tag for the 16 GB version. But this upgrade is about more the brand name than the actual product. Although they won’t openly admit it, Apple’s executives want consumers to start saying “iPad” instead of “tablet” – even when talking about a Microsoft product. They can accomplish this by focusing the name on the overall tablet category rather than on the individual model. The difference between, say, the third and fourth iteration of the iPad will matter less and less as the company works to solidify the brand as eponymous with the industry.

Such a move comes at an opportune time for Apple. Despite the best efforts of numerous competitors, each round of the iPad has only seen higher sales and market share figures. The company’s recent electronic textbook deals with major publishers should, moreover, only solidify the iPad’s dominance in the education world.

Now, with the release of Windows 8 not expected for another several months, consumers are more likely to hold off on making a Microsoft tablet purchase this quarter. Apple hopes to capitalize on this down time in PC sales – and, in the process, sell enough tablets to make people hesitate before buying a new desktop or laptop in the first place.

As Apple gains in strength and consolidates its market share, then, an emphasis on its overall tablet dominance could very well lead to the final brand victory that it seeks. Will we soon be calling all tablets iPads? There’s certainly a good chance.

The new iPad arrives in stores on March 16th. It can be pre-ordered at