Oh those poor, poor people of Penryn.
Where? When? What has happened? All of which are perfectly good questions – so, let me explain why I raise the topic of this picked-upon town.
Penryn is a small Cornish coastal settlement. Said to have been founded in 1216, it is one of Cornwall’s “most ancient towns, with a wealth of charm, character and history”, according to my guide book. “Standing at the head of the Penryn River, it occupies a sheltered position and was a port of some significance in the 15th century”, so it goes on.
Today, Penryn is a bustling town, with a population of more than 7000 and has been designated as an important conservation area.
Trouble is, it’s also slowly but surely disappearing. Go on, try to Google for it and you’ll see what I mean. You’d think a simple online search would throw up sites galore. Well, yes, it does, just not about Penryn the Cornish town.
Computer chips. Or more precisely, a new range of computer microprocessors from microchip maker Intel, codenamed Penryn (incidentally, the first working 45nm processors with hafnium-based high-K + metal gate transistor design, if you were interested).
Anyhow, what this means is that from the beginning of the year, Penryn the small Cornish coastal town has gradually been giving way to Penryn the computer chip in searches.
Eight of the first 10 hits for Penryn on Google are chip-related, one is for a South African school and just one is for the Cornish town. Seven of the next 10 are for chips (one is for Penryn’s local football team!).
So, why Penryn?
“We need names for products internally,” explained a man at Intel marketing. “They are typically place names. The designers are based in Folsom, California, and 12 miles away is a town called Penryn.”
Sadly, the irony of this quirk of geography doesn’t amuse the Cornish Tourist Board.
“Cornish tourism depends heavily on the internet for bookings,” says Teresa Timms of Visit Cornwall. “Although the launch of the Intel Penryn may raise the general profile of the town it may also compromise the town’s businesses.”
Indeed, this is a major worry for all the locals that have spent a lot of hard-earned cash trying to make sure their websites appear high up on a search engine’s ranking, especially on the all-important first page. When big-buck tech companies start paying for high search placings on the word ‘Penryn’, local companies will undoubtedly miss out.
However, in a move that should placate the Penrynians, Intel has given a “guarantee” that Penryn will not be the product name when the chips are launched. While that may be a relief to the people of Penryn, a quick search of the map around Folsom could have others fearing the worse in the future.
Within an hour’s drive of Folsom there are quite a few tasty looking place names (if you’re a software maker that is). Just down the road there’s Lotus, although that’s already gone. Cool, Volcano, Walnut, Antelope and Rescue (yes, they do exist) are probably a bit too weird.Of course, that still leaves the people of Newcastle, Lincoln, Somerset, Plymouth, and Georgetown in the firing line. But, fortunately for us, there are no Invercargills, Nelsons, Paraparaumus, Hokitikas or Eketahunas to be seen in that corner of California.