"Today we have iPhones, smartphones, mobile internet devices, netbooks, notebooks, and more," Calder said. "We're not sure how adding another new term helps, and, in fact, it may only confuse consumers."
Richard Shim, a PC market analyst with IDC Corp., isn't enchanted with the "smartbook" either.
"It's not very intuitive to me, I don't know what it is," Shim said. "I think it's going to be a challenge and will require some heavy marketing to get people to accept it."
Shim admits he's grown a bit jaded after seeing all of the variants on the basic subnotebook PC that vendors tried unsuccessfully for years to hype until Asus finally struck gold with the Eee netbook in late 2007.
"To be honest, there's been a lot of terms that have been thrown around. Nothing's stuck, so the vendors tweak the terms, tweak the models, and hope they find something that resonates," Shim said.
Philip Solis, an analyst at ABI Research Inc., recognizes the word game the ARM vendors are playing, but says it is justified.
"Some people are naturally going to look at it [cynically]," he said. But "any way you slice it or dice it, the smartbook is a different type of device."
The key, says Solis, is for ARM vendors to deliver on promises of lower prices than Atom netbooks, with or without the aid of bundling deals from telecom operators, as well as make smartbooks thinner and lighter in weight than netbooks.
The latter may not be that difficult, as netbooks have started to become "super-sized" with 12-inch screens and DVD drives.
Interestingly, ARM Holdings PLC, the U.K. designer of the ARM chips (that it licenses to hundreds of manufacturers), has apparently not yet embraced the smartbook term, at least publicly.
At a press conference at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Monday, ARM CEO Warren East predicted that 20% of netbooks next year will ship with ARM chips inside.