iPhone is out, just not THAT iPhone

A couple of days ago, Brain Lam of Gizmodo played a cruel joke on the world, promising details of an iPhone, which he hinted would be launched on Monday, December 18th.

We considered it for a few seconds, and decided that it was unlikely, and said so. And then promptly shifted our attention to the more plausible, if not probable (in near term) Google Phone. With weekend over, the big question is: is there an iPhone coming today? The answer is yes and no!

No, because Apple is not introducing an iPhone – which is good news, at least from a personal perspective. It would have been tough to lose another 10 pounds on top of 40 that one needs to shed as a direct consequence of the Goobe deal. Yes, because Linksys, a division of Cisco, is introducing a new line of voice-over-IP phones, which they are cutely branding the iPhone.

Linksys is branding its entire line-up of VoIP, and it will also include some wireless phones specifically designed for Yahoo Messenger and Skype services. The callers can toggle between the free VoIP calling options available from Skype or Yahoo! and traditional landline service with the click of a button.

More interestingly, the company also launched a new handset – The iPhone Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit for Skype (CIT400) – that plugs directly into the ethernet jack. It acts pretty much like a regular phone, except it uses Skype. There is a whole slew of other models, which I don’t have the patience to write about.

The iPhone branding could pose some serious challenges for Apple, if and when it introduces its own phone. Cisco/Linksys are risking the ire of King Steve by brilliantly usurping the iPhone branding, and turning the rumored-hype to their advantage.

Judging by the photos furnished to us, Jobs & Co., have nothing to fear. At least from design perspective, the Linksys phones are like George Clooney, while Apple’s iPhone would certainly be Cary Grant.

In fact, Siemens recently released OpenStage line of VoIP phones are closer to Mac sensibility than the Linksys devices.

In a previous life I wrote about the influence of iPod on the design of many popular consumer products, especially mobile phones. Looks like *real* iPhone, without even making a debut is redefining the drab, dowdy and listless world of VoIP devices.

As for the iPhone, thanks for trying Linksys, but no thanks – we are going to wait for the real thing.