Thursday, January 11, 2007

Apple vs. Cisco or: The Tyranny of "i"

On the surface, the Apple vs. Cisco snafu over the former's lack of regard for the latter's possession of the "iPhone" trademark might appear to be simple matter of two bickering tech companies, but a look at the reporting done by ZDNet reveals a couple of interesting tidbits:

You may wonder, is Cisco doing this just to try to get more money from Apple? They claim that all they want is interoperability. In the company blog, Mark Chandler, Cisco's SVP and General Counsel writes:

What were the issues at the table that kept us from an agreement? Was it money? No. Was it a royalty on every Apple phone? No. Was it an exchange for Cisco products or services? No.

Fundamentally we wanted an open approach. We hoped our products could interoperate in the future. In our view, the network provides the basis to make this happen—it provides the foundation of innovation that allows converged devices to deliver the services that consumers want. Our goal was to take that to the next level by facilitating collaboration with Apple. And we wanted to make sure to differentiate the brands in a way that could work for both companies and not confuse people, since our products combine both web access and voice telephony. That’s it. Openness and clarity.

While Apple's negligence in obtaining the "iPhone" name comes off as pretty arrogant, the idea of using copyright to, for lack of a better word, extort interoperability is an interesting proposition. It's not the same as the patent troll corporations who acquire patents and copyrights for the sole purpose of suing other companies (à la SCO vs. Linux); Cisco seems to have a rather reasonable goal. It's hard to argue against the merits of interoperability. I'm curious to see how this plays out.

PS: How wed to that i is Apple? When the iMac came out it stood for "internet," but its now lost any real significance. How about a little more creativity?