Visit iPhone.com and you'll see ads for various cell phones that play music — but Apple Inc.'s much-hyped iPhone isn't one of them.
The domain name was grabbed long before Jan. 9, when Apple announced its gadget combining a cell phone, an iPod media player and a wireless Internet device. Since then, speculators and entrepreneurs have registered thousands of iPhone-related Internet addresses.
There has been another spike in registrations as Friday's launch nears, according to Jay Westerdal, president of Name Intelligence Inc., which analyzes domain name patterns.
Registering the name of another company's product is not by itself prohibited, although there are arbitration procedures available when it is done in "bad faith," such as for resale and other commercial gain.
And Apple alone doesn't own rights to the iPhone name. Cisco Systems Inc. has been using the name on a line of phones that make calls over the Internet. Cisco sued Apple, although the two parties eventually settled without disclosing details.
The iPhone.com name has been around since at least 1995 and currently belongs to a registrant who uses a proxy registration service to maintain anonymity, akin to having an unlisted phone number. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling did not immediately return phone calls and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Records show the registration data haven't changed since last July, so the domain's use appears unrelated to the Apple announcement months later.
That's not the case with names like iPhoneJewelry.com (created June 5) and TheAppleMaciPhone.com (created this past Tuesday).
According to Name Intelligence, about 450 domains with the word "iPhone" were registered on Jan. 11 and about 375 on Jan. 12 — just days after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at the Macworld conference in San Francisco.
That eventually dropped to about 25 a day until the recent spike — more than 350 were registered one day last week.
In a blog entry, Westerdal said more than 4,000 new iPhone domain names have already been registered, with another 4,000 expected by year's end.
"Domain registration patterns can tell a lot about the world and what news is breaking," he wrote.
Several of the domain names were being offered at the eBay Inc. auction site, with some seeking thousands of dollars. Few, however, were getting actual bids, even at 99 cents — already less than $6 it costs to register a domain name. Many of these sites are now showing ads or are nonfunctional.
Go to http://www.apple.com/iphone if you want the official iPhone site from Apple.