While many were waiting for Apple to announce the iPhone in January, Cisco has beaten the firm to it.

Cisco beats Apple to iPhone

Cisco, through its networking equipment unit Linksys, is announcing a series of new products branded with the iPhone logo, amid growing speculation that Apple is on the verge of releasing a wireless phone with digital music playing functions. Cisco has owned the iPhone trademark since 2000 when it bought Infogear, which registered the name in 1996.

The series of internet-enabled phones are designed to work with web-based phone services such as Skype. The news could have damaging consequences for Apple, which has been buying website domain names linked with the iPhone name.

Cisco’s main product base is routers and switches, but it is increasingly getting into consumer electronics. Product manager at Cisco Dennis Vogel claimed that the utilisation of the iPhone name is part of a larger strategy towards networked homes. This is a concept that CEO John Chambers will expand upon at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. “He’ll be talking about the integration of devices around the home,” said Vogel. “The phone is a good starting point, but there is quite a bit more to be done.”

One feature rumoured to be included with Cisco’s future home network products is smart call-routing features. With this technology, a call from a particular number will only ring on certain phones, rather than every phone in the house ringing until the call is answered.

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