Time travel back for a moment to 2007, when Cisco sued Apple for violating its trademark of the "iPhone." Cisco, you may recall, acquired that name way back in 2000, when it bought a company working on ways to access the internet with devices beyond the traditional PC. And yet here was Apple, deep in negotiations with Cisco, brazenly making off with that same name for its new cellphone (we weren't all calling them smartphones yet).
Fast forward to this afternoon, and the iPhone is firmly an Apple product, far and away the world's most popular model of smartphone. Cisco sees the writing on the wall, and is partnering with Apple to provide a "fast lane" on its network for executives and office drones who are bringing their iOS smartphones and tablets to the office. It's all part of Apple's push into the enterprise, which includes its recent partnership with IBM, another former enemy turned business ally.
The announcement says that "Cisco networks and iOS devices will be optimized so that they work together more efficiently and reliably with the goal of providing users with even greater performance." But for all the talk of a "fast lane," it's hard to believe Cisco would actually create a system in which iOS devices performed better on a corporate network than machines running Windows or Android.
The changes will probably amount to easier integration and more robust performance of iOS devices on services like Cisco Spark, Telepresence, and WebEx, exactly what the two companies had been negotiating to achieve back when Apple surprised Cisco with the announcement of the iPhone onstage. It's another reminder that Apple under Tim Cook is a different animal from Apple under Jobs, one more likely to seek out the profitable but boring partnerships and to smooth over hurt feelings instead of giving offense.