The iPhone has arrived, but not from Apple.
Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, introduced two VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) handsets adding to five others the company already offers. The group of phones is now part of a Linksys family of products called iPhone.
The Linksys iPhones aren’t quite what some people may have been expecting. Apple is rumored to be working on a combined cell phone and digital music player and the mythical device has been dubbed the iPhone, after the popular iPod digital music player, by Apple enthusiasts.
Linksys’ newest iPhones include the CIT400, a cordless phone with a base station that attaches directly via Ethernet to a network and comes preloaded with VOIP software from eBay Inc.’s Skype Internet telephony service. The phone allows users to make and receive Skype calls without having to turn on and use their computers.
The WIP320 also comes loaded with Skype software and is compatible with Wi-Fi so that users can make and receive calls on the phone from anywhere they can connect to a wireless access point.
Users can check their Skype contact list on the phones to see if someone they want to call is available. The devices support SkypeOut and SkypeIn, the services that allow users to make and receive calls with landline phones for a fee.
The WIP320 costs US$199.99 and the CIT400 retails for $179.99. Both are available in North America and are expected to become available in Europe, Asia and Latin America during the first quarter next year.
If Apple is indeed developing a combined mobile phone and music player, fans will have to adjust their expectations that the device will likely not be called an iPhone. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Cisco holds the registration for the “iPhone” trademark.