The hot cross-platform mobile toolkit PhoneGap was created by Nitobi, a company acquired by Adobe last year. Almost at the same time, the project was submitted to Apache as an open source project. However, the Apache project is not called PhoneGap; it was briefly known as Callback and is now called Cordova (the name of the street in Vancouver where Nitobi was based).
A new official log post explains why PhoneGap was renamed at Apache, but also makes the point that the PhoneGap brand will continue.
PhoneGap is a distribution of Apache Cordova. You can think of Apache Cordova as the engine that powers PhoneGap, similar to how WebKit is the engine that powers Chrome or Safari. (Browser geeks, please allow me the affordance of this analogy and I’ll buy you a beer later.)
Over time, the PhoneGap distribution may contain additional tools that tie into other Adobe services, which would not be appropriate for an Apache project. For example, PhoneGap Build and Adobe Shadow together make a whole lot of strategic sense. PhoneGap will always remain free, open source software and will always be a free distribution of Apache Cordova.
Read it carefully, because it is still potentially confusing. Note that PhoneGap “will always remain free, open source software” though it may gain hooks into commercial Adobe tools. At least, that is how I read it.
I would also expect that Adobe will come up with design and development tools for which PhoneGap (or Cordova) is invisible to the user. You will just be able to build for multiple platforms.
The post adds:
Currently, the only difference is in the name of the download package and will remain so for some time.
I will add that there is great brand-awareness of PhoneGap and what it is, and little for Cordova, so if you want to be understood talk about PhoneGap.