Apple is taking steps to seize control of iPhone5.com. The company filed a complaint last week with the World Intellectual Property Organization over the domain, which currently hosts a small discussion forum centered on iPhone-related news and rumors.
According to Fusbile, the site was founded a few months after the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010 and has focused primarily on rumors surrounding - as you might expect - the iPhone 5. The discussion forum at iPhone5.com is very small, with only six discussion threads on the News page (three of which are focused on Apple's complaint).
Interestingly, the forums members appear to be divided on whether Apple deserves to own the domain name or not. One of those three forums was begun by a member who argued that Apple had every right to the name, due in large part to the fact that "iPhone" is an Apple trademark, and that once the "iPhone 5" (more likely "the new iPhone," but we won't quibble) is out, a discussion forum focused on news and rumors about the device will become obsolete. Another thread contains a poll concerning whether Apple should be allowed to take over the domain. Of the 20 members who have responded, 13 said that Apple should not get control of the domain, 7 said that they should.
Whether Apple ought to be allowed to seize the domain or not, the fact is that they will certainly succeed in doing so. The company has taken similar actions to gain control of other domains related to their products in recent years, including iPhone4S.com, , iPhone4.com, and many others.
Nor is this sort of thing new. Companies buy or seize domains related to their products all the time in order to protect their brands from squatters who might capitalize on a product's popularity. Back in March Google bought up a whole slew of domains associated with the phrase Google Play. At the time it was thought that the phrase might refer to Google's long-rumored tablet, though it turned out to be a re-branded Android Market that included Google's e-bookstore and music service.
At any rate, it really isn't a question of whether Apple will get control of iPhone5.com, it's a question of when. What's really interesting is the fact that they're taking this step now, several months before the next iPhone's release. Often they refrain from acquiring product-related domains until after the product releases, so as not to give hints about upcoming products. Apple's next iPhone has been referred to as the iPhone 5 since right after the 2010 launch of the iPhone 4. Last year's iPhone was widely expected to be the iPhone 5, though it turned out to be the iPhone 4S. Since then, general usage has retained the iPhone 5 name, though this year's iPhone will actually be the sixth generation. The launch of the latest iPad, though, suggests that Apple will drop the numbering of iOS devices altogether. That would make the upcoming iPhone simply "the new iPhone."
What do you think? Should Apple be allowed to take the iPhone5.com domain? Let us know in the comments.