I've got an iPhone... but it's from Linksys, not Apple. And before I unpackaged it, I wouldn't have even known it was an iPhone if Linksys hadn't told me.

The Cisco-owned big kahuna of home networking announced the iPhone on Monday as the brand for its line of VoIP-based handsets and accessories, including some dating back a couple of years. Asked about a possible conflict with a rumoured Apple product, a Linksys PR contact emailed me the company's official statement:

"Linksys has been shipping iPhones since Oct of 2005. We wanted to put a family launch of iPhone now that we have two additional phones with features that take the consumer away from the PC which is a main enhancement and customer benefit to the iPhone strategy. Linksys has been planning the launch of its iPhones for months – Linksys policy has been that we don’t launch products until they are available to the customer. The production schedule was set for availability of these products to be in the Channel as of 18 December for consumer purchase. So with availability comes the launch of the products."

The two new products referenced in the statement are the $180 CIT400 (a cordless phone that works with standard phone lines and Skype VoIP calls) and the $200 WIP320 (a Wi-Fi handset, also for use with Skype). Late last week, Linksys actually gave me a shrink-wrapped CIT400 to try out.

But it wasn't until I got around to unwrapping it last night that I noticed that the word "iPhone" was nowhere to be found on the packaging.

I checked back with my Linksys contact, who told me that the packaging was being changed and that current packages (like the one I had) were being stickered with iPhone labels as they shipped.

As for Linksys having been in the iPhone business for some time now, the company's news release (headlined "Linksys Announces iPhone Family of Voice Over IP Solutions") actually says Linksys has been shipping iPhone products since the summer of 2004. They just didn't call them iPhones.

I haven't yet tried out the CIT400 (the instructions say it should be charged for 14 to 16 hours first, so I should be ok to go tonight). I also have my doubts about how useful the pricey WIP320 will be - you can't use it at hot spots that require a Web log-in, for example. But in the meantime, I'm fascinated by Linksys' exercise in retroactive branding.

This blog was originally posted by Yardena Arar of Digital World .