For those of you who grew up watching Cheers, you'll get the point of my headline. For those of you who didn't, Tom the lawyer was played by character actor Tom Babson, now part time drama instructor, and a former member of the Celebrity All Start Hockey Team who went on to coach Women's Hockey in Boston, . Tom is a friend from my past in the world of hockey. On Cheers, Tom would occasionally provide advice to his bar mates and of course to Sam, the bartender the star and for the most part, the regular focus of the show in the early days.
So when I read Tom's post I couldn't help but have a vision of the gang at Cheers all sitting around postulating on Sam's chances to sleep with the next young lady who would walk in to the bar. In essence that's what Tom Keating's post yesterday and so many others are like. We're speculating about things we are not experts on.
The Apple-iPhone situation and all the speculation from everyone else around the blogosphere and in the press is an example of the gallery of those that have opinions vs. those in the know commenting. It's what we all do every day and it's public banter. Unfortunately, there's a lot more to this that we don't know.
1) Did Cisco's legal department start sending out a form letter like Cease and Desist letters like I used to get from Jeep when we ran a promotion that featured a Jeep as the prize, which our client bought and paid for, and which even carried a disclaimer that our client recognized that Jeep was a registered trademark of American Motors?
2) How long have Cisco and Apple been trying to work things out? We don't know...we don't even know if there was a real agreeement
3) Was there ever an agreement or was one tendered by one side of the other, agreed that it might work and then both sides went off on their merry way?
4) Is Apple using the courts as a promotional tool? Yes folks, some companies recognize that getting press around a product or service, or using the courts as a discounting method, is better than paying now or changing thing. Besides, other than Steve Jobs standing up and saying this is the iPhone, what advertising or promotion has Apple done behind the iPhone? ZERO. It has all been publicity. Not one lick of money has been spent ADVERTISING the iPhone. However, tons of free press coverage has helped propel it to be on everyone's mind and the Cisco lawsuit will even further propel it.
Now, lets look at it this way other wise known as it's my turn to open my mouth at the bar...
Suppose the first court that hears the iPhone trademark case rules in favor of Cisco, a ruling which I expect to see in the next 180 days one way or the other--(Note I'm not speculating which side will prevail. Update--I've just read friend, client and now blogger Peter Csathy's take..worth reading.
So the name has to change. What harm has been done other than Apple has gained tons of publicity about their mobile phone. People will still walk in and ask to buy the iPhone, even if it's now the Aphone (thanks Om I had the same idea walking towards MacWorld yesterday). iPhone stops being used before one item is sold and then one has to prove that the infringement led to those sales and the revenue from them. Of course Cisco contend that their brand has been harmed, Apple thus agrees to promote Linksys products in their stores (oh, that's right Linksys doesn't want to work with Apple...darn.) and to give them dozens of feet of shelf space for xx months without any slotting allowance. (Darn, Linskys saves millions). Oh..and iChat becomes Telepresence compatible and the two companies agree to work together to have Telepresence work on all Apple devices from the Macs all the way down to the xPhone..(darn iChat not one of the things Apple has promoted yet on the WhatEver Phone..)
But back to the court cases outcome....
Apple of course points out the cost involved in changing the brand over so close to launch being in the millions of dollars and they need some time to do this. The court agrees and grants Apple so many days to do comply with the court's order. In reality Apple likely already has another name in the oven complete with graphics, copy and all things marketing, and off they go. Apple's too smart and if all it means is having to slap an A over the "i" in the logo with a sticker, so what...all that does is make the iPhone, turned aPhone a collector's item, which causes a mad rush to buy. The court could of course could honor Cisco's request that all product destroyed but that would be overkill because of course Apple simply has to say, "we're willing to comply" or "gee your honor we really tried to work this out with them. We wouldn't have gone as far as we did.......If you think about it Apple really doesn't lose much in court and that's because they don't go to summation that often.
No, this thing gets worked out. Both Cisco and Apple end up stronger and in the end the only harm done is a bunch of trees get killed around all the paper motions that are sent to the courts.
So like Sam, who didn't get "That Girl" but instead got the "next girl," Apple changes the name and still sells the phones.
You see, it is not about the name. It is about the phone. In the end the Apple mobile phone will sell not based on the name iPhone, but because it does things that people want, looks the way people want a phone to look, feels the way people want the mobile phone to be in their hands and offers people something they don't get from their current phone. It will sell because it has the Apple brand. Jobs and Company can call it the WhatEver Phone...because it's an Apple.
You see, it's all about Apple, not about i.