The iPhone WIP320 - Click to enlarge

The iPhone CIT400 - Click to enlarge
Think different, because it's not what you think

Last week, a quick and nondescript post on Gizmodo said that the iPhone would be announced today. Of course, such a word was met with equal amounts of skepticism and excitement from Apple fans. It turns out that much of the commotion surrounding a mobile phone device from the Mac-maker was completely misplaced. Yes, the iPhone is officially real today, but it’s not from Apple – The iPhone was announced today by Linksys as its new line of VoIP devices.

Products in the iPhone product line integrate Skype and Yahoo! Messenger with Voice and can toggle between the VoIP calling options and traditional landline service with the click of a button.

The iPhone Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit for Skype (CIT400) embeds the client into a cordless phone base station that is attached directly to the home network via Ethernet, allowing the user to place calls to other Skype users, mobile phones, or landlines without turning on a computer. The iPhone Wireless-G Phone for Skype (WIP320) makes Skype portable by integrating it into a Wireless-G handset, allowing consumers to place calls from anywhere they can connect to a wireless access point.

Both new iPhones products allow voice calls in addition to real-time contact list access and presence information that lets the user know if the intended call recipient is available. The new phones also support Skype calling services, such as SkypeOut, SkypeIn and voicemail.

"Each generation of phone offerings from Linksys has offered Skype users increased flexibility in how they make calls," said Gareth O'Loughlin, director of hardware product management for Skype. "We're thrilled to work with Linksys and give users even more options to use Skype off the PC - whether at home, at work or on the move."

The iPhone product family (though not all yet branded as such) also includes products like the Wireless-G IP Phone (WIP330) that integrate the SIP VoIP protocol. Consumers can use the WIP330 to access music, photos, and streaming video from sources on the Internet so they can combine the product with wireless video cameras like the Linksys Wireless-G Compact Video Camera (WVC54GC). iPhone products are expected to retail for between $79.99 and $369.99.

"As the next generation of handheld devices, Linksys iPhone voice solutions and products are changing the way people communicate with their friends, family and colleagues. They enable compelling internet services, allow consumers to know when their contacts are available for calls, and offer access to personal content like music, movies and live video cameras," said Mike Pocock, Linksys senior vice president and general manager. "The development of the iPhone family demonstrates our flexibility in selecting the right partnerships, feature sets, and product designs to exceed the demands of even our most connected customers to whom the Internet is no longer a destination, but an inextricable part of their lives."

For those of you scratching your heads over this iPhone business, Cisco has owned the trademark for the name since 1996 – before Apple even started putting the letter "i" in front of its products – and thus has always had full rights to the name. As for why it took Cisco this long to make use of the name, the only possible explanations could be either it never reached an agreement for the sale of the trademark, or it chose to capitalize on the name now that it’s the buzzword of the tech circles.

At any rate, the rumor mill on Apple’s phone continues to turn – but now we must find a new name for it.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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