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Cisco introduces "iPhone" family of devices

Cisco Systems and its Linksys division are drawing headlines and causing a stir Monday after introducing a family of Voice over IP (VoIP) devices bearing the "iPhone" product name.

Until now, analysts and members of the media have largely associated the iPhone moniker with Apple Computer's much-rumored iPod cell phone project. The iPod maker retains ownership of the domain name and has also filed for trademarks on the term at overseas trademark offices.

However, Cisco has claimed ownership of the iPhone mark for the past ten years and stated today that it plans to use the name as part of a larger strategic vision concerning networked homes. Its new line of iPhone devices integrate popular communication clients, like Skype and Yahoo! Messenger with Voice, to help enable real-time presence features that can allow consumers to see when their friends and family are online and ready to receive a call.

"With products in the iPhone family, callers can toggle between the free VoIP calling options available from Skype or Yahoo! and traditional landline service with the click of a button," the company said.

The seven models introduced Monday include: iPhone Cordless Internet Telephony Kit ($79.99), iPhone Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit ($99.99), iPhone Dual-Mode Cordless Phone for Yahoo! Messenger with Voice ($99.99), iPhone Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit for Skype ($179.99), iPhone Wireless-G IP Phone ($219.99), iPhone Wireless-G Phone for Skype ($199.99), and iPhone Wireless-G IP Phone ($369.99).

Cisco said its iPhone Wireless-G IP device includes a Web browser that lets customers access music, photos, and streaming video from sources on the Internet so they can combine the product with wireless video cameras to create a real-time home monitoring solution.

iPhone Wireless-G Phone for Skype

Meanwhile, the Dual-Mode model with Yahoo!Messenger allows users to program the device with a local zip code, delivering access to local business information and weather forecasts.

"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," said Mike Pocock, Linksys senior vice president and general manager. "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."

Cisco's announcements Monday do not affect Apple's own "iPhone" plans, which are still expected — likely under a distinct product name — in the first quarter of 2007.