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Chinese Pirates Copy iPhone, Make Improvements

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the that's-the-entrepreneurial-spirit dept.

Hardware Hacking 716

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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Lots of cool products (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 years ago | (#20181927)

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! (2, Funny)

FatSean (18753) | about 7 years ago | (#20181943)

Capitalism puts the smack down on the hippy dippy Apple company once again!

Re:Cool! (4, Insightful)

Analogy Man (601298) | about 7 years ago | (#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:Cool! (3, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | about 7 years ago | (#20182095)

>> 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! (4, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | about 7 years ago | (#20182301)

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! (4, Interesting)

djasbestos (1035410) | about 7 years ago | (#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! (0, Offtopic)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 7 years ago | (#20182565)

Socialism killed millions of people and impoverished billions. Regulation is a violent intervention in peaceful trade, it's legitimate to oppose it, with force if necessary.

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182329)

If you're going to argue economic theory, could you graduate junior high first? "Les afair"? Jesus Christ. It's 'Laissez-faire'.

Re:Cool! (1)

0racle (667029) | about 7 years ago | (#20182353)

Laissez-Faire = The phrase you were looking for Les afaire = not a word or phrase

Re:Cool! (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 7 years ago | (#20182221)

What kind of "innovation"? iPod wasn't about innovation, it was about: "Hey you can have a mp3 player without being a geek, you'll be hip we swear". Similarly iPhone doesn't look at all innovative to me, it's just brand impact, and the Chinese can't take that away from Apple.

Re:Cool! (4, Insightful)

jabuzz (182671) | about 7 years ago | (#20182377)

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.

Re:Cool! (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | about 7 years ago | (#20182451)

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:Lots of cool products (0)

SomeGuyTyping (751195) | about 7 years ago | (#20181951)

I still want one

Re:Lots of cool products (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | about 7 years ago | (#20181959)

And toys covered with lead-based paint and food contaminated with toxins and drugs without any real drugs in them...

I remember when it used to be Japan (5, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:I remember when it used to be Japan (1)

hcdejong (561314) | about 7 years ago | (#20182525)

I could be mistaken, but I don't remember the Japanese getting into the 'cheap ripoff' business, certainly not to the extent the Chinese are.

So far, I've found one instance where a Japanese company copied others' designs (Datsun built a copy of the Austin Seven in the 1930s). That's way before Japan's rise as a manufacturing giant.
Even the first generation Japanese cars that were exported were original designs. Japanese products became popular because they were inexpensive (on cars, "all the options were standard"), and because they were well-built and reliable (at a time when the British motorcycle industry and the US motor industry were building crap). Electronics were a similar story.

Re:Lots of cool products (3, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 years ago | (#20182289)

So dont eat your China-Iphone.

Re:Lots of cool products (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182431)

Zonk, I know it isn't a Wii or iPhone article, but could you kindly post the fucking "Amiga on an FPGA" article that has been submitted to the Firehose and voted up daily for the past week. It's been voted up to "Red" for hours now, but we're getting this shit instead.

As with all knockoffs (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | about 7 years ago | (#20181937)

iGroan.

Re:As with all knockoffs (3, Funny)

porkThreeWays (895269) | about 7 years ago | (#20182359)

Pfft. I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it. And look, there's Magnetbox and Sorny.

Listen, I'm not going to lie to you. Those are all superior machines. But if you like to watch your TV, and I mean _really_ watch it, you want the Carnivale'. It features two-pronged wall plug, pre-molded hand grip well, durable outer casing to prevent fallapart...

Re:As with all knockoffs (3, Funny)

lottameez (816335) | about 7 years ago | (#20182445)

chiPhone

Yes, but.. (3, Funny)

Sandbox Conspiracy (836255) | about 7 years ago | (#20181945)

Will it kill my cat?

Re:Yes, but.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182233)

Will it blend?

Side by Side (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | about 7 years ago | (#20181955)

Anyone have one want to find someone with an iPhone and give a side by side comparison?

Re:Side by Side (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about 7 years ago | (#20182449)

A better question is: Will it blend in a Chinese knockoff of a Blendtec blender?

Re:Side by Side (1)

djh101010 (656795) | about 7 years ago | (#20182493)

I saw a video of what is probably this, on YouTube. Search terms "fake iPhone" I think. Can't get to the link from where I'm at right now to post a direct link.

That said, if this is the one in the video, the user interface is completely different, and the workflow looked not well thought out. So, there are two kinds of people when it comes to Apple or similar products - those who make a checklist of "Can I get to my voicemail (yes/no)", and consider all voicemail equal, would probably be just fine with the workflow that this gives you. But, the iPhone's voicemail app is _very_ nice, and is better executed than any other voicemail I've used. Other apps are similar, nice little surprises when you use them (traffic conditions in the Google Maps app, for instance). So, the guy who says "All keyboards/cases/power supplies are the same", won't want the premium hardware that Apple sells, and/or won't care about the usability differences.

Brilliant! (5, Insightful)

quark101 (865412) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 7 years ago | (#20182003)

Yep, though with an American product you may get the occasional license violation, your almost guaranteed to get it with your Chinese ripoff. And yes, your GPL isn't safe either.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

mochan_s (536939) | about 7 years ago | (#20182051)

I think it means that a cloner does not copy the original software that came with the iPhone.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 7 years ago | (#20182157)

You forget the whole Jack the original Code part

I'd much prefer a cheap clone to an iPhone (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182483)

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.

Indeed. And that's a very GOOD thing, everyone building upon the work of others.

Pity that the west isn't into that. Instead we're into branding. /sigh

If the cheap clone were Linux-based then it wouldn't matter if it wasn't as slick as the iPhone, because we could improve it.

And it wouldn't matter if the hardware were somewhat slower, because we could optimize the kernel and libraries to make up for it.

In any case, where do people think that Apple get their components? Almost entirely from the far east ... that's the hotbed of technology these days. Apple merely defines the specs, controls the integration, and marks up 10000000000% profit ....

But those same good components are not Apple exclusives, they're available to anyone wanting them --- if they were exclusive to Apple, an iPhone would cost a grand or more.

Kudos to China and to all those focussed on making things instead of on branding.

Damn those Communist Chinese! (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 years ago | (#20181979)

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?

Apple logo too, sorry (4, Informative)

retrosteve (77918) | about 7 years ago | (#20182271)

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.

I'm down with that. (2, Interesting)

torpor (458) | about 7 years ago | (#20181991)


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 get better and better for those of us who want nice, fast, cheap, easily reproducible hardware, for interesting uses ..

Re:I'm down with that. (1)

BuckBundy (781446) | about 7 years ago | (#20182185)

You must still believe in communism and Santa Claus too, eh?
OS is not going to solve anything in this case, the software in this case is just an enabler to sell more hardware and make a profit.
FOS will make it even easier to create clones, that's any MAC OS is based on BSD, not Linux.

Clones aren't clones, just cheap rippoffs (4, Insightful)

emj (15659) | about 7 years ago | (#20182005)

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.

Re:Clones aren't clones, just cheap rippoffs (0)

gnuman99 (746007) | about 7 years ago | (#20182275)

If it is Linux, you can demand the source code. GPL allows you that. And if they do not have the source code, complain to the iptables guy Harald Welte [1][2]

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Welte [wikipedia.org]
[2] - http://gpl-violations.org/ [gpl-violations.org]

Re:Clones aren't clones, just cheap rippoffs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182303)

And you are hoping to get the GPL enforced in China?
You're amusing.

Re:Clones aren't clones, just cheap rippoffs (2, Insightful)

e4g4 (533831) | about 7 years ago | (#20182379)

If the Chinese will unashamedly disregard other software and hardware licenses, why on earth would you expect them to respect the GPL? After all - the creators of the GPL, and those who enforce it, don't have nearly the clout that, for example, Microsoft has with the federal government in terms of international IP enforcement. You can demand all you want, but I doubt the manufacturers would even humor you by answering the phone.

iClone likely has cut & paste, unlike iPhone (1, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | about 7 years ago | (#20182439)

I'm not sure what "badly integrated" means. Isn't the iPhone inherently "badly integrated" with itself because it lacks cut & paste? No cut & paste means the iPhone doesn't even qualify as a "smartphone" or "feature phone", period. Guess what feature one'll find on the Chinese iClone? lol

So how long before ... (1, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#20182007)

"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?

Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (1, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#20182017)

My #1 reason I am against the idea of patents and intellectual property is because it is proven time and again that the market of demand and supply is the most justified market in terms of what is good for consumers and producers.

I am inspired repeatedly by what I see in China. We are going this Christmas again, to be wowed by the explosion caused by freedom and true capitalism (uncluttered by regulations and taxes). I am happy to call myself a Pirate, one who has no care for copyright, patents or trademarks. They're useless old mercantilistic protections for corporate-State entities that wish to monopolize something for a long period of time.

Individuals who invent do so because something else inspired them. If that inspiration was a product that was lacking features, then they showed the original inventor the shortcomings of their invention. If someone releases a product cheaper or with more features than your product, you must move forward to beat them. Competition drives innovation, not monopoly IP protection. So what if you spent 5 years designing something new? Just having an original product doesn't guarantee success -- you need finances, marketing, customer support and repair facilities. It is a combination of all these things that will bring you success, with the R&D stage merely a blip. Who comes up with an idea first may be lacking all the other needs for a profitable product.

For my own creations, I designed moralIP [moralip.com] which is my view on how to morally protect designs. I never copyright or patent my writings or inventions -- and even if others steal them, my market base grows with new people interested in what I have to say, or what I've invented. That's the unseen hand of the market at work, and I love every minute of it.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (4, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 7 years ago | (#20182181)

I am inspired repeatedly by what I see in China. We are going this Christmas again, to be wowed by the explosion caused by freedom and true capitalism (uncluttered by regulations and taxes

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Funniest thing I have read on slashdot EVER! You do realize that in order to be listed on any Chinese stock exchange you have to be part owned by the Chinese government, don't you? You also realize that individuals cannot "own" land in China, you "rent" it from the government for 70 years. Foreign companies also cannot set up operations in China without having to partner with government affiliated companies. The government can and does shut down companies for no apparent reason. Not to mention the "uncluttered by regulations" part tends to result in highly unsafe products. The list goes on. Somehow, I don't equate "being able to make random knockoffs but cannot do anything without governments approval" to be "true capitalism"
Yeah, uncluttered regulations indeed.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#20182285)

Not to mention the "uncluttered by regulations" part tends to result in highly unsafe products. The list goes on. Somehow, I don't equate "being able to make random knockoffs but cannot do anything without governments approval" to be "true capitalism"

The safety of products sold is a prime reason to use a retailer and not buy wholesale yourself. Will Amazon or CVS or Wal-Mart sell unsafe products? They add their profit overhead to cover their infrastructure, but also to insure against buying faulty or dangerous products. If a product is deemed dangerous, they'll remove it from the market. If they find a large number of dangerous products from a given source, say China, they may go so far as to test products themselves before releasing them to the market. A large retailer can do way more, way faster, than the FDA, USDA or other organizations can. See: Underwriters Laboratories.

As for regulations, China is definitely not a regulated economy as much as the US is. China's provinces ("States") have varying degrees of regulations, with the least regulated ones growing the fastest. Doug Casey says about Shanghai [lewrockwell.com] "The dozens of hotels that can compete with those in Bangkok are starting to draw not just businessmen, but tourists. They like the beaches, and the shopping in a tax and regulation-free environment is incredible."

I've visitd Beijing and Shanghai, and I can tell you that government is quickly backing off of entrepreneurs and the business market. The booms in growth are amazing, along with the freedom that even a non-citizen has in starting new businesses. The same can be said about Dubai, where I'd love to at least have residency because of the unlimited opportunity to grow and blossom a business.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 7 years ago | (#20182349)

The safety of products sold is a prime reason to use a retailer and not buy wholesale yourself. Will Amazon or CVS or Wal-Mart sell unsafe products?

They sold Mattel products, didn't they? Made in China, found to be pretty dangerous.

Sorry, but you didn't even refute a single point I made. Not to mention that China is shutting down a lot of businesses/factories in Beijing before the 2008 Olympics and that is just the tip of the iceberg. You seem to think making knockoffs=freedom, and that is just not the case.

Oh wait, I just realized you are dadasys or some variant, the multi-billionaire who always gets first post on slashdot....yeah....pardon me for not believing a word you say.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 7 years ago | (#20182579)

Oh yeah, and all of those places also sold the recalled pet food, just to put another hole in your sinking argument.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182187)

For my own creations, I designed moralIP which is my view on how to morally protect designs. I never copyright or patent my writings or inventions -- and even if others steal them, my market base grows with new people interested in what I have to say, or what I've invented.

Wouldn't that leave you at risk for someone stealing your designs/ideas/whatever and profitting from them with no growth to your market base? If they're going to steal it from you why would they still give you credit for the creation of whatever it might be?

And since you didn't patent and/or copyright the work, you'd have no legal basis to sue them. They'd be making all the money from your ideas.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182195)

I am inspired repeatedly by what I see in China.
Poisonous toothpaste and dead regulatory officials?

Individuals who invent do so because something else inspired them.
Some do. Most invent because there's a financial reward attached in the form of a paycheck.

That's the unseen hand of the market at work, and I love every minute of it.
You (and the market) will keep your hands where we can see them, please.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#20182335)

Poisonous toothpaste and dead regulatory officials?

I don't support force-heavy laws of the State, but I firmly believe that those who get paid directly by any State should be the ones who fall under the law. In this case, this was the State that failed, not the market. Get rid of all State-regulations on medication and let the retailers and independent testing organization test products for safety. Underwriters' Laboratories does a great job as an independent testing organization -- so great that many retailers won't sell electric products that isn't UL-rated for consumers.

Some do. Most invent because there's a financial reward attached in the form of a paycheck.

There are two ways to invest and make a profit:

1. Invent your own product, try to find marketing and production, and then hope to make a profit. This is highly risky, but can be highly rewarding, too.

2. Go work for an R&D think-tank and get a paycheck. Your risk is cut, but so is your reward.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (5, Interesting)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 7 years ago | (#20182343)

Well China is about as close to your utopian IP-free state as possible.

It's basically decimated the local film industry - China should be a huge market, but basically it's ignored even by local filmmakers, who aim themselves at foreign audiences - hence all those lame Westernish Kung-Fu movies from Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. This is also true in Hong Kong, which has a history of excellence and two of the greatest directors in the world, Wong Kar Wai and Johnny To, who now rely on non-Chinese audiences or even have turned to making American movies.

Chinese manufacturers have to aim at the foreign market from day 1. Any successful product will be immediately copied by Chinese cut-rate manufacturers. It is economically infeasible to design a product for the Chinese market.

Imitations also are often of a much lower quality. Bootleg bottled water in Beijing was recently revealed to often be fake, using filtered Beijing tap water (you wouldn't want to drink it).

Local musicians aren't able to sell their CDs. Anything popular from local bands will be sold on the street for maybe fifty cents. There is basically no music scene in China, everything is bootlegged from Hong Kong or Taiwan or the US.

Goods in China are marginally cheaper, but it's at the expense of shoddy products that are often of a lower quality, and of a moribund IP development, and a lack of locally produced culture. There is no motivation to doing work or putting expense into research, if there's no economic reward - and there's no economic reward when your ideas are ripped off immediately.

I'd love to see all these people who are so opposed to IP restrictions actually consider their argument, rather than use it as their rationalization for why it's not stealing to download bootleg copies of "Transformers the Movie."

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (1)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#20182363)

Out of curiosity, what exactly are all these "inventions" that make you such an expert on the economics of innovation?

I took a look at your website but only learned that you're (here's a shock) a Ron Paul supporter.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182459)

I am inspired repeatedly by what I see in China.
Oh yes, the have such a good record of human rights. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_prot ests_of_1989/ [wikipedia.org]

And all the wonderful government regulation of exports.
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/story.aspx?g uid=%7BF8F452C5-6985-4EDC-9572-62BBD4FF24BE%7D&sit eid=rss/ [marketwatch.com]

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182531)

If you don't copyright your works, your "Moralip" license is unenforceable. Because either it is a license, or it is not, in which case you're just asking people to do what they think is right. Which is fine - IP rights are yours to claim or disavow, whatever suits you. In that case, however, you've consigned yourself to a rather Hobbesian IP environment. So I wouldn't call this system of yours "protection."

Now, a correction - you do in fact copyright your works. Copyright is automatic. In the Berne Convention Implementation Act Congress abolished formalities, meaning that you don't need to get a copyright registration in order to receive a copyright. You have a copyright in your post unless you explicitly devote it to the public domain; I have a copyright in this post as well. [Whether Slashdot's ToU claims a right to our posts- and whether that's enforceable- is an interesting question worthy of another thread.]

So if you haven't been disclaiming your copyrights, you're claim that you "never copyright" your writings is not correct. And if you use Creative Commons, you're not disavowing your copyright either - you're merely agreeing to be bound by a standardized license agreement that (for once) can be comprehended by mere mortals.

Our IP system isn't wrong or immoral; it is merely out of balance - and today, it is drastically out of balance, in a manner that can undermine the progress of science and the useful arts, rather than promote it. A properly tuned IP system, however, is a invaluable asset to an information economy.

That being said, it shouldn't be held against you that you don't appreciate this. Our IP system's excesses are themselves responsible for IP's crisis of credibility. Yet we must recognize that the ultimate solution lies in reform, not repudiation.

NOTE: If this were legal advice, it would be followed by an unreasonably large bill.

Re:Patent, schmatent -- supply and demand wins (1)

cowscows (103644) | about 7 years ago | (#20182563)

Just having an original product doesn't guarantee success -- you need finances, marketing, customer support and repair facilities. It is a combination of all these things that will bring you success, with the R&D stage merely a blip. Who comes up with an idea first may be lacking all the other needs for a profitable product.
That's all true, and one of the reasons why IP does have a valid place. In your imagined world, where there is zero IP protection, then the only people creating mass market products will be large organizations. If anyone smaller tried, their ideas would quickly be stolen outright, and mass produced by someone with the resources to develop and manufacture more of them faster. You could make an argument that that is better for the consumer, who gets new stuff more quickly, but it ignores the long term trends that that would lead to. Namely that the barrier to entry for entering just about any market will become so high that nobody will be able to start a business anymore. Then the big names start buying each other up, and we end up with a handful of huge companies that we're reliant on for everything.

That's not to say that IP laws are perfect, the system is definitely being abused, doesn't always work well, and couldn't be approved. But the suggestion that the only two options are the system we've got now or no sort of IP at all is not only silly, but very short-sighted.

Chinese Fakes (5, Informative)

apodyopsis (1048476) | about 7 years ago | (#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:Chinese Fakes (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#20182413)

> The local culture is that to copy and improve is natural and not illegal.

That's the `local culture` everywhere, as is drug taking, prostitution etc. It's just that in some countries it's better suppressed by vested interests/religious fuckwittery, narrow-minded bigotry etc.

China: cleverer and more numerous (1)

pzs (857406) | about 7 years ago | (#20182029)

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

Re:China: cleverer and more numerous (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20182093)

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:China: cleverer and more numerous (2, Interesting)

pzs (857406) | about 7 years ago | (#20182263)

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 of plausibility about it.

I guess it's all a continuous cycle. I wonder whether within my lifetime, the US will go from world dominance to scratching around for a world role. It only took about 40 years for the British Empire to go from "sun never setting" to "small island in Northern Europe".

Peter

Re:China: cleverer and more numerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182299)

Britain ruled the 19th Century
America ruled the 20th Century
China will rule the 21st Century

Re:China: cleverer and more numerous (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 years ago | (#20182317)

They aren't more clever. We can and would do the same thing, but unfortunately, we have these things that restrict us called "laws" and "the legal system." What enables them the most is that they are outside of our jurisdiction.

Ultimately, some of the law that prevents us from doing the same thing should be re-examined as much of it is geared to protecting big companies from little companies or protecting a big company's business model from having to change and engage in "risky" behaviors (aka innovation).

Re:China: cleverer and more numerous (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | about 7 years ago | (#20182541)

Wages will eventually go up in these countries, like in Japan. They will be tough competitors, but they won't totally dominate the West.

The purest form of flattery (1)

krgallagher (743575) | about 7 years ago | (#20182033)

"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.

Anyone bother to look at the video on last page? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182219)

Has anyone commenting on this even bothered to look at the video of the product on the last page?

To suggest that this product is "better" than the iPhone is ridiculous.

It just looks like a roughly-made copy of the iPhone design running linux.
The interface is crummy and hardly a copy of the iPhone beyond the background graphic and a copy of copied icons.
No multi-touch, inconsistent interface, really looks like something thrown together.

Improvements? (1)

Zargle (465109) | about 7 years ago | (#20182065)

so... can the average consumer replace their own battery in this new phone?

Meizo (3, Informative)

Any Web Loco (555458) | about 7 years ago | (#20182091)

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.

When do we hear RMS' wailing? (1)

rockhome (97505) | about 7 years ago | (#20182097)

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.

Re:When do we hear RMS' wailing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182247)

Might be a surprize to you, but as long as you don't have the phone with the software, you don't (have to) get any SourceCode. GPL does not say "give source to everyone" GPL says "give source to users".

yes, but... (1, Funny)

accessdeniednsp (536678) | about 7 years ago | (#20182109)

Yes, this is truly wondrous and all that jazz, but... will it blend?

Can we.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182111)

nuke China now?

Pirates? (5, Insightful)

Doc Squidly (720087) | about 7 years ago | (#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:Pirates? (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20182183)

The title of this story is misleading and the story is as well. Pirates copy DVD's, not create new consumer electronics products.

      Wait, in a few years they will change it to "terrorists".

Ottawa Number (1)

codegen (103601) | about 7 years ago | (#20182131)

It is interesting that the number dialed in the video on the P138
613 599 5555 is an Ottawa Number.

Re:Ottawa Number (1)

codegen (103601) | about 7 years ago | (#20182159)

Oops.. typo. make that *could* be an Ottawa number.
Mea coulpa

TFA is not about the iPhone! (1, Redundant)

edxwelch (600979) | about 7 years ago | (#20182135)

It's about the Chinese cloning industry. Only a small part of the artical deals with the iPhone. What is it with the iPhone fixation?

Re:TFA is not about the iPhone! (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 years ago | (#20182267)

What... you expect people to actually read the articles? You must be new here.

Not new (1)

eclectic4 (665330) | about 7 years ago | (#20182139)

I remember reading an article where China had released a GM car copy even before GM had released it.

And what sort of support would you get for this phone or it's service?

Re:Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182419)

I remember reading an article where China had released a GM car copy even before GM had released it.


Could only have worked with a Delorean.

You get what you pay for. (0, Troll)

glindsey (73730) | about 7 years ago | (#20182203)

Given China's recent record, I expect them to be painted with lead paint [smartmoney.com] , filled with propylene glycol [msn.com] , have a case that falls apart [cnn.com] , and kill people horribly when it crashes [paultan.org] .

But let's all keep buying these unregulated, untested imported products because, wow, look at the savings!

Re:You get what you pay for. (1)

m2943 (1140797) | about 7 years ago | (#20182517)

But let's all keep buying these unregulated, untested imported products because, wow, look at the savings! The Apple iPhone (and, in fact, pretty much ever cell phone in the world) is manufactured in China, so I really don't see the difference.

Inevitable conclusion... (4, Funny)

aapold (753705) | about 7 years ago | (#20182235)

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.

Re:Inevitable conclusion... (5, Funny)

Hanners1979 (959741) | about 7 years ago | (#20182401)

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.....

It's no big deal, they can just sell them as Steve Ballmer clones.

US can't legally buy pirated products (2, Interesting)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

But will you still be smart enough to enjoy it? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 years ago | (#20182287)

Professor Frink takes over the marketing class, drawing equations and free-body diagrams on the whiteboard to explain the profits of one of those things that girls sell which makes the cash register ring.

Frink: N'hey hey! Ahem, n'hey, so the compression and expansion of the longitudinal packets cause the erratic profits -- you can see it there -- of the neighboring telcos.
[a girl raises her hand]
[sighs] Yes, what is it? What? What is it?
Girl: Can I phone with it?
Frink: No, you can't phone with it; you won't enjoy it on as many levels as I do.

Someone done stoled my miniOne.

Never underestimate... (3, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | about 7 years ago | (#20182293)

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? (4, Interesting)

m2943 (1140797) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

better phone network than AT&T (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 7 years ago | (#20182375)

Asia is so far ahead of the USA in wireles technology.

Not an improvement (1, Troll)

objekt (232270) | about 7 years ago | (#20182383)

No multi-touch.
No finger flip.
No iTunes compatibility.
No coverflow.
No Safari.

And, oh yeah, it's vaporware.

Re:Not an improvement (5, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#20182485)

No 3G..Battery soldered in...wait, that's the original iPhone!

Download Source (1)

ehaggis (879721) | about 7 years ago | (#20182385)

If they have used GPL software, where can I download it? Should it not be available from this company?

Re:Download Source (1)

everphilski (877346) | about 7 years ago | (#20182551)

Uh, go re-read your GPL. Its available to the users, not to just any ehaggis asking for it.

Let's hope it isn't covered in lead-based paint (1)

tenzig_112 (213387) | about 7 years ago | (#20182397)

I can imagine ordering one of those phones and you get it home and the thing doesn't work. You open it up to find it filled tainted cat food, the black paint has rubbed off on your hands. You might want to wash those before you eat.

Those.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182399)

Those chinks are sure smart.

Is the Dragon "conquering the world"? (1)

Deathless Durin (1139823) | about 7 years ago | (#20182405)

Well....can't say as I'm surprised.... China does (as the article makes clear) copy quite a lot of western technology. As it also said though, they put it out to a much larger market, and it's usually cheaper.
Sometimes it almost looks like China is "taking over the world", which seems to be kind of true in a way...they have advanced rather quickly in the past few years, and it doesn't look like they'll slow down anytime soon. I always knew that there was quite a lot "made in China" but I never really realized until I read that article how much they actually copy (and sometimes improve) what is designed in other countries. The part that scared me the most was the bit about how badly the QQ performed compared to it's "parent" in a crash test....
I did think the part where they said that "In the south, one cloning operation didn't just copy a technology company's product line--it duplicated the entire company, creating a shadow enterprise with corporate headquarters, factories, and sales and support staff." was pretty amusing....

A reverse in the "original vs. copy" saying (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#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?

Chinese Apple fakes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20182553)

I remember a fake-ass "iPod" which a friend bought in China.

The box it came in had a huge apple with a ridiculously patriotic "stars and stripes" theme on it.

Seriously, that thing was weird as hell.

On a side note:

"The typical cloner either uses off-the-shelf code, writes something entirely new, or modifies a publicly available Linux-based system."

Is there some mysterious fourth option I am not aware of which makes this sentence necessary?

I mean you either use something that is for free (or steal it from the foreign devils), or you write it from scratch, or you buy it.

Support and upgrade (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#20182561)

Well, they can clone an iPhone or whatever. Already bugs and security holes are being found in iPhone. And AAPL would fix it and a security patch will be issued. Who is fixing bugs in the iClone? What if it lets people intercept the calls? Who is going to make the repairs? Suddenly when it dies with all your contacts and music and files, you think iChina is going to be there? Half the value AAPL provides is not in the iPhone.
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