Remember the original iPhone? No … you probably don’t.
Buried deep in the history of the iPhone from Apple is the fact that the company announced the original iPhone without yet owning the rights to it. You see, the very first product ever launched with the name was the one you see at the top of this post from InfoGear. It was a desktop phone that featured a touchscreen, which was fairly radical in 1998 when this was released, and was used for “easy” access to email and Internet.
Flash forward a bit and Cisco comes along and buys InfoGear and its intellectual property portfolio. The iPhone name kicks around for a while until Cisco comes along and decides to purchase Linksys, a company best known for making routers. One of the items that was on the docket for release was a Skype handset that would let you talk on the popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service like you would any other cordless phone. Seeing as Cisco owned the iPhone name at this point, it seemed like a good place as any to use it, so they did.
Now 2007 rolls around, and Apple is rumored to be announcing a phone. Everyone had taken to calling it the “iPhone” due to the iPod line, and it seemed like that would be the name the company announced, Sure enough, they did.
But, wait, didn’t Cisco still own it? They did, and the company revealed that it has been in negotiations to license the name, but the talks hadn’t wrapped up by the time Steve Jobs said the name. The following day Cisco filed a lawsuit and the two companies eventually settled out of court.
Yes, the iPhone is synonymous with Apple these days, but the name has floated around the technology world since at least 1998. Considering what the Linksys iPhone looked like (see below), I think we can all be grateful the name moved somewhere else … anywhere else.