'Hello, you have reached my iPhone'

I know what you're thinking: No one could possibly be so enamored of their iPhone - not to mention so pretentious and/or oblivious to the potential snickers - as to drop the name of the world's most famous tech toy into their answering machine message.

Meet Bill Cheswick. Here's his message:

"This is Bill Cheswick's iPhone. You know what to do, and when to do it."

Yes and yes ... although I'm not sure what to say or how to say it.

In a week that saw Apple report the first million units sold, Cheswick's message was brought to my attention by a colleague who had attempted to contact him to arrange an interview but initially managed only to speak to the man's iPhone. Cheswick is lead member of the technical staff at AT&T Research, which means that while he's not directly involved in the carrier's iPhone service, he does have something of a workplace rooting interest - as well as a serious case of this phone infatuation that's been going around.

Why flaunt it, though? I just had to know why a person - a serious techie: he spoke at this week's Jericho Forum and is among a handful who've been dubbed the "Father of the Firewall" - would be compelled to announce to any and all contacting him that they had reached a, well, a you-know-what. Here's an edited version of our e-mail exchange:

Why'd you do it?

"I needed a message, I entered one. I put no thought into the 'iPhone' part of the message.

"But the iPhone has pretty consistently exceeded my expectations, and I love it, even at the old $600 price. (A deal's a deal, you know.) I am quite pleased when I use it. In particular, the message storage and recording is based on the phone, not the phone company, and this is a cool change. I am sure that (feature) cast a glow over the message's contents."

What kind of response have you gotten?

"My mother had no idea what to do. I assume there is a beep there, though I haven't checked. She tried to talk to me, to press '1,' and finally hung up. ... No other feedback, and I am surprised that I got any at all."

Do you know of others doing such name-dropping? Might it be "an AT&T thing?" (I actually Googled "reached my iPhone" in various formations and came up largely empty save for one person who used the phrase in a "could you imagine someone doing that?" manner.)

"I know of no official corporate policy, nor do I recall hearing any similar suggestions in our weekly corporate messages. Certainly I have never been one to pay much attention to most marketing edicts."

And finally, has it crossed your mind that someone might find the message, oh - how can I put this politely - ever so slightly snobbish?

Well, I am clearly an uber geek (you should visit my house). I don't think of myself as snobbish about it, but more childlike, perhaps. I think it is helpful in research to try to keep a bit of wonder in the future and technology. I am having fun."

Cheswick's being a good sport here - "I hope this e-mail doesn't get me fired," he wrote of our officially unauthorized correspondence - so I don't want to put too fine of a point on my interest in his motivations.

However, I can't help but question whether there's a whiff of disingenuousness in his contention that he "put no thought into the 'iPhone' part of the message." I mean wouldn't that be like painting your house pink and then wondering why the neighbors are acting kind of strange?

Then again, I suppose my nosiness could be seen as nothing more than a sign of envy, what with my toting around a 4-year-old (albeit surprisingly durable) Nokia 3595 and all.

"Hi, you've reached Paul McNamara's Nokia 3595 ..."

Nope, doesn't have the same ring.

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