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iPhone Knock-Offs From China. What Can Apple Do?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on September 12, 2007

Psst. Wanna buy a cheap iPhone, like for $195? Well, there are knock-offs pouring out of China already. And they’re available here in the US.

This is a serious problem and the Chinese government needs to do something to stop this kind of design/innovation piracy. I’ve been told that the Chinese knock-off guys were shipping iPhone copies even before the real iPhones were being sent out of China. Check out this sales site. And shut it down.

Reader Comments


September 14, 2007 9:09 PM

I generally agree with you and understand the incentive for innovation offered by the enforcement of intellectual property rights, but let me offer a few contrarian questions: Piracy and competition like this has always existed and probably always will, but doesn't this encourage Apple to maintain a high level of product quality, offer exceptional customer service, and continuously innovate to differentiate and sustain their competitive advantage? In a way, one could actually build a strong case for 'design thinking' in business today based on this example, instead of allocating too many valuable resources to shaping policy and IP enforcement. Also, I'd be curious to get your opinion as to how many actual or serious iPhone customers would actually buy these clone phones as a substitute for the real deal. Do you think Apple would have reached the 1M sales mark earlier had the Chinese government shut down these shops? I have a little 'product lust' for an iPhone, but am not about to settle for the spin-off. My guess is that the folks who are buying these clone phones wouldn't buy a real iPhone anyway. I'm convinced of the principles behind your concern; but is it wrong for me to put George Hotz in the same category as these Chinese gadget peddlers? Are they stifling growth or simply putting pressure on us to envisage new opportunities?

Braden Kelley

September 19, 2007 12:31 AM

Chinese knock-offs force American companies to get more innovative in how they combat this type of activity.

It is one thing if they are knocking off the exterior look. It is quite another thing if they are knocking off the internals and making it function the exact same way, as opposed to roughly the same.

The solution to this problem may not appear until the Chinese economy produces its own electronics and software titans of sufficient size to truly be capable of finally pressuring the government to focus on enforcement.

j stone

October 10, 2007 6:44 PM

apple customer service has always been disgustingly repugnant.

apple cares about one thing. the money gods.

their product made in china is pretty, but a piece of crap.

and their service and tech support is amatuerish, and always has been.

their stores in malls are the worst places to shop since walmart.

bottom line.

apple gets and f for effort.

fuck apple.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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