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Hardware Hacking Businesses Handhelds Apple Hardware

Chinese Pirates Copy iPhone, Make Improvements 716

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-the-entrepreneurial-spirit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Popular Science notes that manufacturers in China duplicate many well-know products. This includes the Apple iPhone, imitations of which are rolling off the assembly line already. That might actually be a good thing for some users, who might enjoy the user experience of China's own miniOne. 'It ran popular mobile software that the iPhone wouldn't. It worked with nearly every worldwide cellphone carrier, not just AT&T, and not only in the U.S. It promised to cost half as much as the iPhone and be available to 10 times as many consumers.' The cloned iPhone uses a Linux-based system. 'The cloners hire a team of between 20 and 40 engineers to begin decoding the circuit boards. At the same time, coders start to develop an operating system for the phone with a similar feature set. (The typical cloner either uses off-the-shelf code, writes something entirely new, or modifies a publicly available Linux-based system.)' Using the iPhone as an example, the PopSci site walks through the process of making imitation technology."
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Chinese Pirates Copy iPhone, Make Improvements

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  • Like 10g nano clones with FM transmitters.. Or tons of other items, most at much lower cost then in the rest of the world.

    But you cant get them here. ( and i bet the quality is pretty poor too )
    • Cool! (Score:3, Funny)

      by FatSean (18753)
      Capitalism puts the smack down on the hippy dippy Apple company once again!

      • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Analogy Man (601298) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:48AM (#20182021)
        Reverse engineering someone's product to market your own substitute would describe a something besides capitalism in my opinion.

        Say what you like about Apple, there should be some rewards for innovation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by imsabbel (611519)
          >> Reverse engineering someone's product to market your own substitute would describe a something besides capitalism in my opinion

          Can you explain why?
          Isnt the ability to make a similar product cheaper the sheer essence of capitalism?
          Arent all those les afaire capitalists complaining about arbitrary limitation of the market forces?
          • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Ironsides (739422) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:10AM (#20182301) Homepage Journal

            Can you explain why?
            Isnt the ability to make a similar product cheaper the sheer essence of capitalism?
            Arent all those les afaire capitalists complaining about arbitrary limitation of the market forces?
            Maybe because they aren't completely 'making' the product when they copy the internal workings of another? Development costs are a real factor in the manufacturing of a product. Someone who gets to copy another's product without paying the development costs reaps an unfair advantage, it's just like industrial espionage.

            Also, if you will note, twice the mention knockoffs that are inferior:
            "These clones bear our name and address," David Blackburn, the company's CEO, told the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission. "The label . . . contains our catalog part number and the initials of a calibrator, as well as a final tester."

            Now, how does selling a counterfeit under someone else's name fit in to your view of capitalism?

            The Chery QQ demonstrates more than just the skill of modern cloning. It also illustrates the danger. Easy-fit doors and rearview mirrors aside, there are differences--scary differences--between the Spark/Matiz and the QQ. As news of the copycat car spread last year, a German automotive club conducted and videotaped a comparative crash test between the two vehicles. When the Matiz hits the barrier, the front end crumples. The rear of the car bucks upward and then thuds back to the ground. An impact chart shows serious yet nonfatal injuries to both the driver's and passenger's head and legs (the chart distinguishes impact with color: the redder the deadlier). The Chery hits the obstacle at the same speed. The rear end of the car lifts higher than the Matiz and begins to rotate. The driver-side door pops open. Hood, engine and roof crumple into the passenger compartment. The frame buckles, bringing the vehicle flat to the ground. On the impact chart, the driver's head, neck and chest are brown and red: not survivable.
            • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by djasbestos (1035410) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:25AM (#20182475)
              Now, how does selling a counterfeit under someone else's name fit in to your view of capitalism?

              Pure, unfettered greed from pure, unfettered competition. I guess all those laissez-faire capitalists forgot about China, huh? Doesn't work so well without the Man there to *gasp* regulate business!!! "But that's SOCIALISM!!" Oh noes!

              Just because the quality *might* be shit won't stop people from buying cheaper a knock-off. Unregulated competition is the definition of pure capitalism as any Milton-loving Libertarian or Republican (Mitt Romney?) would tell you. Can't have your cake and eat it too, I suppose is the moral.

              GP is right.
              • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Ironsides (739422) on Friday August 10, 2007 @11:55AM (#20183769) Homepage Journal
                Sorry, but I don't remember "lying about your product" being part of Capitalism. Claiming something you make was made by someone else to a higher degree of quality definitely is not "truth in advertising".
              • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by SpecTheIntro (951219) <spectheintro@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:12PM (#20184003)

                Pure, unfettered greed from pure, unfettered competition. I guess all those laissez-faire capitalists forgot about China, huh? Doesn't work so well without the Man there to *gasp* regulate business!!! "But that's SOCIALISM!!" Oh noes!

                Right, because capitalism = greed. There is nothing "capitalistic" about stealing. Your definition of "competition" apparently also includes illegal activity. Laissez-faire economics does not say "the government should allow businesses to operate under whatever pretense they like." Here's its actual definition, from wikipedia: "It is generally understood to be a doctrine that maintains that private initiative and production are best allowed to roam free, opposing economic interventionism and taxation by the state beyond that which is perceived to be necessary to maintain individual liberty, peace, security, and property rights." (emphasis mine)

                Nowhere in that definition do I see "allow businesses to cheat, steal, or engage in other illicit activity."

                Unregulated competition is the definition of pure capitalism as any Milton-loving Libertarian or Republican (Mitt Romney?) would tell you.

                Except it's not--nice try at a straw man, though! You almost got it. Nobody (not even free market anarchists) asserts that "regulation" encompasses basic property and security law. It is not considered "regulatory" when the government arrests a businessman for killing a businessman from a competing firm. Nor would it be considered "regulatory" if the government punished one firm for stealing another firm's ideas outright. (Note that I don't consider reverse engineering to be stealing, but there is a healthy debate surrounding that issue.) So, you're 0 for 2.

                Just because the quality *might* be shit won't stop people from buying cheaper a knock-off.

                Why do you think Chinese goods are so much cheaper? The Chinese economy has posted record gains year after year, and they have staggering amounts of foreign investment. They continue to industrialize at a breakneck speed. Under any capitalist society, their currency's value should have skyrocketed by now; if anything, they should be dealing with inflation problems because their economy is growing so fast. But they're not, because they keep the value of the yuan artificially low, essentially dicking the rest of the world over in the process. That is why Chinese goods are so cheap. Japan and S. Korea experienced similar booms, but their products got more expensive as time passed, because their currencies were determined by the free market. China's essentially cheating, but due to their size and their strategic importance, there's not much we can do about it.

            • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by king-manic (409855) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:37AM (#20182657)
              Maybe because they aren't completely 'making' the product when they copy the internal workings of another? Development costs are a real factor in the manufacturing of a product. Someone who gets to copy another's product without paying the development costs reaps an unfair advantage, it's just like industrial espionage.

              Capatalism doesn't diallow this. Your trying to attach notions of innovation with capalism but it's not an inherent part. Look at the free wheeling capalism at the turn of the century. Or even the capalaism of the US ve Europe. MAssive technical espionage and stealing of ideas, designs, machines etc...Even as little as 25 years ago with the massive cloning of the IBM PC. The Theft of ideas has always been a part of capalism.
            • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jandersen (462034) on Friday August 10, 2007 @11:15AM (#20183187)
              Now, how does selling a counterfeit under someone else's name fit in to your view of capitalism?

              The key issue here, I think, is one of honesty and decency. Have a look at some typical products developed in the capitalist West: MacDonald hamburgers, most cosmetics, most 'health' products. MacDonald meals are full of fat, sugar, soy powder and other 'goodies' that are basically ruining the health of the nation because they are being power-sold to our children through TV - this is certainly very capitalistic, but is it right? Is it 'deceny and honesty'? I think not. Cosmetics companies try to convince you that using their products will make your skin younger - which can't be called anything but a flat out lie; and the same can be said about all these dubious health products, which at best have no effect, or worst are harmful. Very capitalistic - you make as big a profit as possible no matter what - but fundamentally dishonest and indecent. Seen from this angle I think ripping off somebody and counterfeiting their product fits right in.

              There is another facet to this that is always ignored when people complain about China, namely the cultural difference. We in the West have got used to the idea that copying the work of others is wrong (although it has not been this way for long - I remember that The Lord of the Rings was in the beginning copied and sold in the US without permission from Tolkien). In China there is a long tradition for copying great masters, certainly in arts, but also in other matters. After all, if something is good, why not? I am not saying that this excuses making illegal copies, but that's the way it is. 2000+ years of habits don't die overnight.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Ironsides (739422)
                decent and honest

                Sorry, but McDonald's never said they were a health food store and the cosmetics say look and feel younger, not make it younger.

                Lord of the Rings? Some screwy thing in copyright law involving a difference between paperback and hardback books. Did you ever notice how any decent publisher still payed royalties to Tolkien even thought they didn't have to?

                In China there is a long tradition for copying great masters, certainly in arts, but also in other matters. After all, if something
          • by Ultra64 (318705) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:34AM (#20182595)
            The new fragrance from Calvin Klein.
        • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jabuzz (182671) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:17AM (#20182377) Homepage
          Right this is the UK here, can we have damages with interest for all the stuff the USA ripped off in the 19th century from us then please. Pot meet Kettle.
          • Two-way street (Score:5, Interesting)

            by supercrisp (936036) on Friday August 10, 2007 @11:12AM (#20183141)
            I study literature, and at least in that realm copying was a two-way street. Dickens lost gobs of money to American editions of his work while Melville, Clemens, and others lost gobs to copying in England. There were no copyright agreements, so there was flagrant copying. In fact, our nations were at war with one another off and on during the nineteenth century. It might be best to not cry over spilt milk.
        • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by omeomi (675045) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:24AM (#20182451) Homepage
          true, but unfortunately, it's worked for them in the past. Why do you think so many products are made in China:

          Company makes product.

          China copies product.

          Company notices China's version is almost as good, and contracts with them to make their product at a fraction of the cost.

          ???.

          Profit!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Speed Pour (1051122)
          With all due respect to Apple for the few things they can lay legitimate claim to for innovation, they are largely just a copycat company as well. Perhaps copycat isn't the right way to put it, they are simply too quick to brag about some new product being an innovation when it's really just an obvious combination of existing pieces. For example:

          I'll give a shred of credit for the iPod simply because they were the first to get it to market, despite the rather obvious detail that it wouldn't be long bef
      • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by colmore (56499) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:45PM (#20185487) Journal
        Uh yeah, because having a "hippy" image (sort of) makes you somehow less capitalistic. They're a publicly traded company with a ferocious marketing department. Apple is as capitalistic as they come. But hey, way to buy the hype in a weird inverted way.
    • And toys covered with lead-based paint and food contaminated with toxins and drugs without any real drugs in them...
      • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:49AM (#20182041)
        If you were an old fart like me you would remember when exactly the same criticisms were said about the cheap Japanese rip-offs that were flooding the market and undermining domestic products that were simply superior in every way. The very idea that Japan would, or could, become world class was laughable, just ask the British motorcycle industry - or the US motor industry

        Beware complacency.
        • Not the same thing (Score:3, Interesting)

          by WindBourne (631190)
          Japan was NOT ripping off. They had low costs cars that Americans were buying, but they were not rip offs. They then focused on quality. Personally, I admire the country for what they did. They pulled themselves up by their boot straps.

          China is a WHOLE different matter. They are flat out stealing. But that is by design. The chinese gov pushes this and as long as American and European countries allow this, it will get worse. You are correct about complacency, but the real issue is Americans (and EUers) who
          • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross.yahoo@ca> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:01PM (#20183845)
            Wow, its amazing how people forget history. Japan WAS ripping off. I know I and my family was working in the car industry during that time. They might not have ripped off the North Americans, but they most certainly did rip off the Europeans. Look at the Japanese models around that time and then look at the Europeans. Similar models. If I may be blunt the Japanese copied the looks of BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes (lesser Mercedes).

            Another example is machines like lathes, milling machines, robots, etc. Germany and Switzerland used to have a good business there. Then along came the Japanese and ripped them off. Most of the German machines are history now because they could not compete against the Japanese who undercut on price alone.

            What gets me is this revisionism in North America and how North America blindly has forgotten how Japanese used to run around on world fairs with camera's in hand.... Do I sound angry, yeah, I am because I was affected.

            Though now I look at China and just laugh...

            (What goes around, comes around...)
      • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:10AM (#20182289) Homepage Journal
        So dont eat your China-Iphone.
  • iGroan.
  • Yes, but.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sandbox Conspiracy (836255) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:41AM (#20181945)
    Will it kill my cat?
  • Anyone have one want to find someone with an iPhone and give a side by side comparison?
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quark101 (865412) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:43AM (#20181969)
    "The typical cloner either uses off-the-shelf code, writes something entirely new, or modifies a publicly available Linux-based system"

    Doesn't that describe just about every single software project that anyone here has ever done? We either use something we already have, hack some other code into doing what we want, and then write new code as a last resort.

    Sometimes I am astounded by the brilliance of the observations that are posted on the front page.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:45AM (#20181979) Homepage
    They are using "free market" ideals against us! What are they trying to do to us by making things we want, less expensive and less restrictive? But there's one thing the Chinese can't duplicate! That "Apple Logo" (tm) that makes me feel smart, warm and cozy every time I buy one of their products. At first, I found myself wanting to buy anything with an "i" in front of the name, but then I realized I was just being an iDiot (tm). Now I look for the Apple mark on it before I buy because then I know I will be happy... just look at all those happy people dancing! It's because of Apple right?
    • by retrosteve (77918) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:08AM (#20182271) Homepage Journal
      I've had a Chinese iPod Nano clone in my hands. It works fine. It's ugly, with a cheap-looking finish and a fake clickwheel that's really just 5 buttons. The power and data interfaces were USB, not Apple's iPod type. BUT

      It had a bigger screen, supported video, had a built-in FM radio, handled most audio and video formats, and...

      it had apple logos and names all over it! More and bigger than the real iPod. Who's going to stop them?

      By the way it sold for 40 dollars equivalent in China.
      • by magarity (164372) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:35AM (#20182609)
        it had apple logos and names all over it! More and bigger than the real iPod
         
        I found this the funniest thing when travelling in China; everyone is so 'new money' and totally insecure about having brand name stuff that all the logos are at least 4x the size as on the same US product. You never forget the first time you see a 4 inch long Alligator logo or the 3 inch tall Polo player on a guy's shirt...
  • I'm down with that. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by torpor (458) *

    Open Source is an adequate response to the Cloner problem. If we can all make it, because its designed to be make-able by all in the first place, then there is no worries with the economy issue.

    At this point, the question becomes: how fast can we all shift to an open/cloner form of economy, with local resources and local markets being properly managed in competition with the way they manage things in China? Answer that one, or at least have some sort of scope for the horizon, and maybe things will just ge
  • by emj (15659) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:46AM (#20182005) Homepage Journal
    There is always a differance, you won't get the same hardware, it will be slower. You won't get the same software, it will be badly integrated with the rest of the phone. And most importantly I'm not sure we will ever see the sourcecode, and this is the bad thing. These phones won't sell that much, but if I ever get my hands on one I would love to have the Source code, ... I've talked with chinese firms it's hard enough to get it right when you have a contract.

    I want one if it's cheap, and if I get the source, but that's because I can stand sucky interfaces to be able to fiddle with the source.
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:54AM (#20182913)
      A copy needn't be worse than the original. I mean, after all, both are Made in China...
  • "Using the iPhone as an example, the PopSci site walks through the process of making imitation technology"

    How long before Apple hits Popular Science with a DMCA takedown notice?

  • Chinese Fakes (Score:5, Informative)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:48AM (#20182023)
    I spent alot of time in China working in the CE industry and this does not suprise me at all. The local culture is that to copy and improve is natural and not illegal.

    However that had not stopped Chinese firms using our own IP systems against us by patenting just about everything they can get their hands on and then seeking money via the courts.

    In a very real sense, they are having their cake and eating it as well.

    My favorite story was the fake NEC firm and thats also mentioned in TFA :"In 2006, NEC, one of the 25 biggest consumer-electronics firms in the world, went public with the results of a two-year investigation. The company had been receiving complants about products it didn't even make: DVD players, cellphones, MP3 players. Investigators from International Risk, a private security firm employed by NEC, ultimately uncovered a shadow version of the company operating out of corporate offices in China, with ties to more than 50 manufacturing facilities. "On the surface, it looked like a series of intellectual-property infringements, but in reality a highly organized group has attempted to hijack the entire brand," says Steve Vickers, the former Hong Kong police inspector who was in charge of the investigation for International Risk. Executives had their own NEC business cards and e-mail add-resses. They had marketing plans and distribution networks in place. Some "company" facilities even had electronic signs bearing huge, lighted NEC logos. Most bold of all, the bogus NEC actually charged the manufacturers it worked with royalties on its designs. The investigation led to raids last year on 18 of the manufacturing sites and the seizure of nearly 50,000 fake products. Yet the factories themselves are still operating, just not using the NEC name. The ringleaders of the scam have yet to be caught; like the Samsung copiers, they are thought to still be making fakes."

    I suspect the biggest problem was trying to persuade them that they had been breaking the law in the first place.

    For more information on Chinese patents see..
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6939 767.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    For more information on the fake NEC firm, see
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/biztech/slick-pirates-s eize-entire-brand/2006/05/29/1148754904830.html [smh.com.au]

    To see some fake chinese brands..
    http://www.hemmy.net/2007/04/29/chinese-fake-brand s/ [hemmy.net]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CodeBuster (516420)
      I suspect the biggest problem was trying to persuade them that they had been breaking the law in the first place.

      It has been my experience that the general philosophy in China with regard to just about everything is, "If you can get away with it and not get caught then there is nothing wrong with it." There is still loyalty to one's family, but the rest has given way to a general pragmatism born of generations growing up in an oppressive and amoral society which glorifies wealth above all other achievem
  • It used to be the case that good programmers were relatively scarce and that if you had a good CS degree, you could be guaranteed a good job. Now, China and India are packed to the gunwhales with programmers and other technology people who are just as capable of producing cutting edges technology and willing to work at a fraction of the cost.

    This must be true in other modern disciplines as well. How are the Western economies ever going to compete, once the East gets properly established?

    Peter
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      How are the Western economies ever going to compete, once the East gets properly established?

            They're not. And then the years of tariffs, non-cooperation, trade restrictions and political threats will come back and haunt us.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pzs (857406)
        I met a graphic designer on a train a few months ago who said that Indian design companies were using European designers to get there processes in place. They would invite these people over on favourable contracts and find out everything about how a design company should be run. The deals were often not as favourable as the designers first thought, but by the time they'd left their host company had already learned an awful lot from them.

        This woman was a bit paranoid and anti-foreign but it did have a hint o
  • "This includes the Apple iPhone, imitations of which are rolling off the assembly line already."

    It looks to me like Apple has raised the bar of what we expect from a hand held device. The fact that someone is making a better(?) one is no surprise. No one could run a four minute mile [wikipedia.org] until Roger Bannister did it. then suddenly everyone was doing it.

  • Meizo (Score:4, Informative)

    by Any Web Loco (555458) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:52AM (#20182091) Homepage
    TFA is mostly about China's counterfeit industry rather than an iPhone clone in particular. The iPhone clone of interest though is the Meizo M8 miniOne. Loads of pics online if you google it.
  • If the thing runs on Linux and uses other GPL code, can we expect that RMS and the EFF will be hounding the miniOne developers
    to comply with the GPL and release the source code and allow the device to run modified code?

    The article didn't tell me where I could find the source for the GPL code used on the device.
  • Pirates? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Squidly (720087) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:55AM (#20182121)
    The title of this story is misleading and the story is as well. Pirates copy DVD's, not create new consumer electronics products.

    The company in question, Meizu, has been working on this product since before the iPhone was launched and is planning to base the it on Windows Mobile 6. Some have said that Apple "ripped off" LG's touch screen phone but, it could be like this situation. One product inspires another. The only difference is the popularity of the product doing the inspiring.

    Sure, its a clone but, not a rip-off. Thats the way tech goes. You make a good product & people will emulate and attempt to improve it.

    BTW, I do own a Meizu MP3 player & wouldn't trade it for an iPod. http://http//en.meizu.com/product_m6.asp [http]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Pirates copy DVD's

      Pirates hijack seafaring ships. You're thinking of copyright infringers. The people ripping off iPhone devices are probably patent and trademark infringers. Totally different things.

  • by aapold (753705) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:05AM (#20182235) Homepage Journal
    They will eventually just clone Steve Jobs. I mean its an essential part of the i-brand experience, no?

    Oh, sure the first versions will be of low quality - arrogant, angry, prone to bouts of outrage, hubris, violence.... posing a danger to all those around him..... but in time they will improve and eventually make a better Steve Jobs than the original.
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:06AM (#20182251)
    Will anyone in the US be able to legally purchase and use a miniOne? Obviously people can and do buy large amounts of fake Louis Vuitton handbags, but you don't need to subscribe to a third-party to make use of the handbag. US cell phone companies will have to recognize and allow the miniOne into their cellular networks. Won't Apple lawyers have something to say about this? I'm not at all certain the miniOne would pass legal scrutiny.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Frankie70 (803801)

      US cell phone companies will have to recognize and allow the miniOne into their cellular networks.


      What a dumb commnet. You could just get a SIM card from T-Mobile or any other GSM provider & plug into
      the phone. There is no absolutely no way, the provider will able be able to detect it or do anything about
      it.

  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:10AM (#20182293) Homepage
    Never underestimate the power of infinite cheap labor. My Dad was navigator for a squadron of Recon F-4s (RF-4s - sheep in wolf's clothing) that flew night missions in vietnam. Their job (occasionally) was to take pictures at night of the Ho Chi Mihn trail. The fighter/bombers would bomb the road during the day. The VC would literally drive trucks down the bombed-out road at night. They would have a crew with shovels in front and behind. One crew filled in the craters, the truck would driver over, one crew dug out the craters. If you flew over the next day, the road still looked "bombed out". Infinite cheap or free labor is a powerful thing.
  • piracy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:13AM (#20182331)
    The iPhone is basically a box with a big touch screen. The iPhone design has so few distinguishing features that it's hard to see which parts of the design Apple could claim a trademark on. Furthermore, Apple wasn't even the first to ship such a phone, LG was.

    "Piracy" means violating either copyrights or trademarks. So, if they put an Apple logo or some unique graphical design on the phone, that would be piracy. If they copied Apple code, that would be piracy. It seems unlikely that they did either.

    They might run into some patents, but patent infringement isn't usually referred to as piracy. Furthermore, the only really novel functionality on the iPhone is multitouch (technology Apple didn't invent but bought), and I seriously doubt the clones even bothered with multitouch.

    So, this kind of cloning is probably not piracy. And given the many limitations of the iPhone, this kind of cloning is a good thing for the consumer. Even if they were the same price, I'd want one of these Chinese phones because it sounds like a better phone to me.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:24AM (#20182455)
    The copy is better than the original.

    For a long, long time, you could often only distinguish between the original and the "cheap" copy by looking at quality. A real Rolex usually beats the crap out of one of those cheap imitations in reliability, accuracy and longevity. A real shirt of some brand was usually much more resilent and had better seams than the rip offs.

    This changed dramatically in the last few years. Especially in the electronics market.

    Electronics vendors want to grab you in their stranglehold of vendor lock-in. They want you to use their, and only their, accessories, or at best some that they approve (and get royalties for). Add DRM and the need that they must not allow you to use your tool in the way you want and you know why the copy is actually "more" what you want. They already ignore trade laws by copying the brand, how much do they care for DRM? And on top of it, they certainly don't care about vendor lock-in, since, well, why should they help the company they copy?

    Now the quality argument has been eroded away as well, since yes, the copies are made in cheap sweatshops in China. Guess what? SO ARE THE ORIGINALS! There is no quality argument anymore for brand vs. copy.

    So we have two tools which are essentially of the same quality, but one wants to limit me while the other one doesn't care as long as I buy the thing. Question for 100: Which one will you buy?
    • by mosch (204)
      Now the quality argument has been eroded away as well, since yes, the copies are made in cheap sweatshops in China. Guess what? SO ARE THE ORIGINALS!

      Quality is not primarily determined by the location or pay of the assembly plant floor.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:37AM (#20182651) Homepage Journal
    If the US government were really interested in a competitive economy rather than merely protecting incumbent crony corporations, this Chinese competition would face even stiffer competition from American corporations knocking off stuff, too.

    We could tell that the US government was interested in that competition, and not propping up incumbents with IP protectionism that only cripples American (and close economic allies like Western Europe and Japan) competition's chance to compete, if the IP controls like flimsy but unending patents and copyrights were discarded in favor of growth.

    Not only would American competitors to these Chinese knockoffs benefit, but of course the consumers would benefit from the lower prices and innovations. Since consumers are most of the economy, along with the labor we sell to corporations, our economy would benefit.

    Or, we can just let China eat our lunch, while we prohibit ourselves from fighting back.
  • OpenMoko (Score:5, Informative)

    by xrayspx (13127) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:39AM (#20182677) Homepage
    I'm waiting for OpenMoko [openmoko.org] to launch. That seems like a device with a little more thought put into it than this clone. The guys in the article just seem to be interested solely in responding to Apple with a quick knockoff to make a few bucks.
  • by Xeth (614132) on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:58AM (#20182951) Journal
    ...so much as crippling ourselves. The iPhone has some obvious flaws. Not engineering ones, really. Not things that couldn't've been overcome by the engineers at Apple. But things enforced by the telecoms. The phones are deliberately damaged. The Chinese ripoff is carrier independent. Allows people to write their own applications. And it's probably easier to use it like a general purpose machine, too. There is no technical reason why Apple could not do these things. But, because of corrupting influence (I suspect the pure-evil, anti-free market attitude of the telecoms), the iPhone doesn't have them. Americans are deliberately making inferior products. No wonder there are issues competing.
  • Quality? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by billsf (34378) <billsf@Nospam.cuba.calyx.nl> on Friday August 10, 2007 @11:01AM (#20183001) Homepage Journal
    It appears China is where Japan was, post-war. There is a market for the 'cheapest product possible', but personally I'd rather pay twice, say for a quality motherboard without on board "Realtek" garbage. In general all products from China seem to be a bit shoddy. Give them a few years and things may change dramatically. I'm referring to 'authorized products' here.

    Then, what is wrong with making obvious fakes? As long as the consumer is fully aware and there is no deception, no faked trademarks, etc. What is the problem? I wouldn't drive a Chinese car quite yet or use an unapproved drug or related product, (like the toothpaste), I am certainly game to learn HOW they do it.

    In yet another case, its profitable to over-produce 'authorized products' and sell them. Does it matter if your 'designer clothes' came from a fancy retailer on High Street or resold at 1/10 the price elsewhere? Remember they came from exactly the same source in this case. Hint: I'm not stupid.

    People the world over tolerate Microsoft. Has Microsoft __ever__ made an original product? Isn't it strange to think about that for a second? Whats wrong with a Linux based phone that looks like the BSD based iPhone? I doesn't appear to have an 'Apple logo', something the end-user can add if it helps. Its a completely different product. Maybe it works better? Chances are it will break in half a year, but at a fraction the price: Who cares? If they've fixed the rough edges of the iPhone, like easy to change batteries, some sort of API, it may be preferable to many. The ones I've seen locally come with source and an API and cost about half the US price of iPhone, in Europe. AFAIK, it legal as long as you don't program it to do something illegal. (such as jam GPS or intercept calls that are not yours) Yes, its illegal to lock a consumer to a single provider or a single choice if more are available.

    It appears today, the most profitable business plan is to base a product on an existing concept. Designing completely new products (like I do) has its challenges and risks. Usually it fails, but that one in five that wins, makes everything back and $millions more, at minimum. So China, like Japan in the 40s and 50s, is at the "Microsoft stage". Eventually they will, like Japan, think for themselves. Japanese products are quality, and China is likely to follow. There is no business plan in forever 'cloning' existing products. What if 'PC hardware' was only IBM clones? Fortunately companies do move on to survive. So do nations. ...
       
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:17PM (#20185013)
    Apple may rue the day they decided to delay the iPhone in markets other then the USA. By the time they make it th Europe and Asia, those markets might already be saturated.
  • by spiedrazer (555388) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:28PM (#20186127) Homepage
    What... I'd buy one!

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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