Apple vs. Cisco: Jobs has won even before he's begun

The inevitable iPhone post.

I thought I was going to get away without adding to the maelstrom of coverage on this, but I'm afraid I can't help myself.

For the record: yes, of course I want one. I want one so bad I can taste the metallic tang of those slick steel edges. But enough of that.

Hard on the heels of Apple's utterly phenomenal, nigh-on flawless launch of the Apple iPhone at yesterday's Macworld Expo, comes the (expected) news that Cisco - who still own the iPhone trademark in the U.S. - are filing suit.

Here’s the thing about this: it really doesn’t matter all that much what Apple or Cisco choose to do now. Apple has already come out with an absolute killer of a launch, and branded the thing deep into the minds of all who lust after it.

It is the iPhone, now and forever.

No matter who wins or how Apple may or may not be required to re-label it. Everyone's going to call it the iPhone.

Apple could even quietly concede, rename it the “Apple Phone”, the "iCall" - whatever. In many ways, they’ve already won the brand battle.

Try this out, for example. Paul Kedrosky has a terrific little keyword marketing research tool called Gindx. It uses Google to concatenate some simple searches -- taking a domain name and some keywords, and showing you where that domain ranks, in Googlejuice terms, for the keywords you specify.

Enter "cisco.com" in the Site field at Gindx, and "iPhone" in the keyword field; here's what you get:

"Here are the top Google results (out of 14,400,000 total) for keyword iphone:

No address containing cisco.com was found in the first ten pages of Google results for iphone"

Try the same keyword search with "apple.com" in the Site field.

They've already won.

You just know that, two years from now, when the product has become firmly established as a major game-changer, everyone will be calling it the iPhone anyway. Hell - everyone was already calling it the iPhone two years before yesterday's launch. What the heck else would one call it?

Perhaps Jobs was crazy to come out and call it the iPhone, knowing that Cisco would go bonkers. Or perhaps he was just crazy like a fox...

[Bonus thought: fascinating to watch how this drama is being played out among blog posts and comments in the blogosphere. I was alerted to this post at one of the Cisco blogs, where Mark Chandler, their SVP and General Counsel, discusses the trademark infringement. The only way I happened across this post was through a comment left at Paul Kedrosky's blog by John Earnhardt, a senior staffer in Cisco's government affairs organization. Smart.]