Apple doesn't own the iPhone trademark. What does that mean? This isn't a simple case of cybersquatting, as with the hijacked sex.com. Nor is it an academic exercise, like when Josh Quittner bought McDonalds.com for a Wired story.
Cisco rightfully owns the trademark for iPhone. And Apple can't sue them or bully them into giving it up. The tech world had taken the title for granted, assumed it to be proper, plastered it over magazine covers, and now the name is lost. Which means Apple's iPhone, if there even is an iPhone, will have to be named something else. It's a big deal, if you think about what that name meant.
Superficially, it's Apple's loss, because the name has been built up by blogs and the mainstream press, to stand for the most highly coveted piece of vapor, ever. But those articles are only there in response to the fanatical desire for a cellphone most — except Steve, its designers, those working on the ad campaigns, and Kevin Rose informers — know zero factual information about. It is the
Cult of Mac's most fantastic religious symbol.
Which is why the loss of the name is really our loss. Since last Thursday, I've been trying to come up with a more natural sounding name to live up to the what the word iPhone stood for: The coming of the perfect phone. One not hobbled by carriers, not weighed down with clunky menus we've already abandoned in video games, computing, TV, and mp3 players. The US of A is last in the modern world when it comes to phone tech. This was supposed to be our Big Shot. So go ahead, and try to think of a name that'll live up to all that. Try repeating iCall, iTalk, iChat Mobile, or any other name suggested by readers of TUAW on this very matter. (The shittiest: Macommunicator) Say the new names, and then the dearly departed. Feel that? The contrast in excitement you feel between "iPhone" and any other title, is what we're all losing by having to change the Apple Cellphone's name. Yes, a rose by any other name might smell just as sweet. But what if you have no idea what a rose looks like, smells like, and you're surrounded by goddamn daffodils? The title was a handle, and all we had to represent the only gadget that could possibly dwarf the perfect thing.
The cult still has hope. It's a safe bet that Apple's known that Cisco's had the trademark for awhile. So they've had a lot of time to make up a name as fresh as the word "iPod" was when it first rolled off our tongues.
And the discussion begins. What will Apple call their perfect phone?