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Flattery or infringement?

When does flattery become copyright infringement?

Apple has clamped down on a UK software manufacturer’s jukebox software which allows PocketPCs to masquerade as an iPod.

The software was originally called pPod, but Apple cited potential trademark violations. StarBrite Solutions, the startup, changed the name to pBop.

cNet image

The original interface copied the iPod’s verbatim. After Apple’s protests, the manufacturer relocated the buttons beneath the scroll wheel. Because PocketPCs have touch screens, the wheel works exactly like it does on an iPod.

Format, physique differ
The $20 software will allow the PocketPC to play only MP3 files, not the AAC files sold at Apple’s iTunes Store.

And the PowerPC has only 64MB of memory – a drop in the bucket compared to the smallest iPod. Yes, memory cards are available — but the price is more than buying a new iPod.

StarBrite asserted that they didn’t think consumers would be confused, according to cNet.

“Apple also felt pPod was being ‘passed off’ as an Apple iPod,” Kelly said in an e-mail interview. “We were surprised to hear this, as we have heard of no one buying a Windows-powered Pocket PC application, being confused they are buying a hardware device.”

However, according to Wired, a customer was confused immediately:

“I was so excited when I saw this because I thought since it’s an iPod player for PPC (Pocket PC), it would play all my iTunes music…

In other iPod news
USA Today reported Thursday that the iPod mini is sold out — 100,000 units in less than two weeks since launch. Apple has sold more than 2 million iPods since introducing the player in 2001; it accounts for 70% of digital player revenue.

The only competitor to the iPod mini is the Creative Muvo2. PC World reviewed the player last month and noted that it was selling for less than the retail price of the 4GB microdrive inside. The interface review was not charitable.

cNet (9 Mar); Wired (8 Mar); USA Today (5 Mar); PC World (24 Feb); StarBrite (corporate web site)

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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