December 18, 2006
Brand Naming: Cisco Introduces iPhone - Not Apple
Ryan Block at Engadget brings the bitter news to us: the iPhone brand name is now public, and on a phone not made by Apple.
It’s a Linksys branded VoIP device from Cisco and Block feels the brand name was probably launched only after a prolonged, unsuccessful attempt to sell the name to a reluctant Apple. Block was probably right in his thoughts about Cisco’s decision, saying, “the ‘iPhone’ is already a fairly ubiquitous brand without even being launched, hey, why not run with it?”
Ted Frank wrote about this news earlier this morning on his Overlawyered blog and pointed out that "the timing of this new product announcement makes more sense when one realizes that Apple was about to announce an iPod-compatible cell phone in January, a product that was widely called iPhone in the press, but that Linksys owned the iPhone trademark since 1996."
Linksys would have been forced to give up the naming rights if the company had not launched a product using this trademark. But this name comes with strong existing equity from Apple's iMac and iPod brand extensions, so I expect sales of the iPhone product line to instantly reflect that.
Gizmodo has a great blog post discussing the implications of Apple not owning the iPhone trademark, and questioning what Apple will call its cell phone.
My advice for Apple is to act fast. Because the next phone we all want may not be from you... it may be the GPhone. France's mobile phone unit, Orange, is talking to people at the Googleplex. Such a phone, it is rumored, could not only make handset surfing easier, it could offer you location based searches: the phone would figure out where you are and offer up restaurants, cinema and even images from Google Earth of your location.
Apple still might surprise us with an announcement, perhaps tomorrow, on the name for their iPhone or, should I say, Applephone.
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