Another day, more iPod knockoffs (aka: Wal-Marting, Part 2) | iLounge Backstage

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Another day, more iPod knockoffs (aka: Wal-Marting, Part 2)

In all candor, this isn’t really news, as it looks like O2 Cool’s iFan (below) has been on the market since mid-2006, but it is sort of amazing to see the depths that companies will go to in order to capitalize on Apple’s designs. Sold at Wal-Mart - last I checked, an Apple Authorized Reseller - the iFan is a battery powered portable fan in the shape of a second-generation iPod, complete with a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck. It apparently wasn’t enough to knock off the standard iPod, so O2 Cool also took the black and red U2 iPod as a second design, then made green and blue ones, too. Amazingly, prices on this range from around $5 to nearly $20, depending on the store selling it.

image

There’s also this little ditty: Samsonite’s iPod Universal Form-Fit Socks. Pull out the words “Samsonite” and “Universal Form-Fit” and you’re left with… “iPod Socks.” Which is what they were called when Apple released the exact same thing, in the same colors, back in 2004. We didn’t open the package to see whether the company bothered to replace the Apple logos with Samsonite ones, or just left the originals intact.

 

image

Perhaps we’re just not Wal-Mart’s target customers, but it’s odd to see how the store’s iPod-related inventory is becoming more and more like a Fry’s, which itself is becoming more and more like a flea market. It’s as if the race to the bottom of the sewer has gone national. Do these stores desperately need new buyers, or is this sort of stuff really what people want?

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Comments

1

I don’t see how someone buying a “Samsonite” brand iPod sock is more worthy of derision than someone who pays more for Apple’s ridiculous version.

Posted by Aero on February 20, 2007 at 1:26 PM (CST)

2

You’ve discovered a key aspect of Wal-Mart’s business model: Sell crap cheap.

Posted by Michael on February 20, 2007 at 2:04 PM (CST)

3

As near as I can tell, Apple has created this problem for itself. For example, take a look at the wireless aisle in most stores and you can find name-brand cellphone chargers for as little as $8. Now walk around to the MP3-player aisle and check out the prices of “Made For iPod” chargers.

We’re not all dumb enough to pay $90 for what is essentially a combination iPod charger/computer speaker, and the Apple elite who try to guilt us into over-paying for these cheaply-made, featureless products should be ashamed of themselves!

Posted by fondy44 on February 20, 2007 at 3:15 PM (CST)

4

The tone of this article smacks of elitism and smarminess.

I’m not a big fan of either of those in tech journalism.

Posted by stark23x on February 20, 2007 at 4:15 PM (CST)

5

I completely agree with both comments 3 and 4..This article is simply soaking in self-proclaimed snobbery. As I type this I’m listening to my 2G nano which is protected by a Samsonite silicone cover that I bought at Wal-Mart (gasp!) just last week. $7.98 for 3 quality covers that I’m positive you wouldn’t be able to differentiate from the identical Apple/iSkin/iWhatever example that costs 3 times as much. I mean, it’s SAMSONITE for Heaven’s sake!

Posted by TalalA2 on February 20, 2007 at 4:53 PM (CST)

6

Note that nothing in the article said “don’t buy Samsonite silicone cases,” “don’t shop at Wal-Mart,” or don’t try to save money on iPod accessories. Specifically, the article pointed to an item that clearly knocked off the iPod’s looks to sell fans, and another that knocked off an Apple accessory to sell cases. This may strike some people as protectionist, “elitist,” “smarmy,” or “snobby,” but there is nothing to be ashamed of when taking the side of original designers over copycats.

When companies knock off any company’s industrial designs and resell them, buying the knockoffs is at least somewhat socially harmful, regardless of whether or not the original products were overpriced. Perhaps this sentiment is lost on those who would, say, support Target’s campaign to systematically copy Pottery Barn’s products for sale at lower prices, but when you fund the copier rather than the innovator, the consequence is more “me too” and less original design, and often the promotion of companies with poor ethics and less concern over quality.

Argue as you might that Apple deserved to see the iPod Socks copied literally stitch for stitch. I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t like them and thought they were ridiculous, and too expensive, when they were introduced. And bear in mind that iLounge is arguably the most price-conscious iPod-related resource anywhere in the world - the only one that has been willing to call overpriced products overpriced. But price sensitivity doesn’t mean that we’re willing to put money in the pocket of a company that is willing to blatantly steal another company’s industrial designs rather than develop its own.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 21, 2007 at 3:29 AM (CST)

7

Those socks are like $4.93…exact same colors as the apple ones just doesnt have the tag that has apple and ipod…i brought them back to canada and sold them for 5 bucks each

so it was like a 25dollar profit!

Posted by Eric Lewis on February 23, 2007 at 9:32 PM (CST)

8

Eric, isn’t that illegal? It seems as if it would be.

Posted by Mondayne on February 24, 2007 at 4:23 AM (CST)

9

Apparantly samsonite dosen’t know how to spell either. On my package, instead of saying “form fit socks” it says farm fit socks.” go figure

Posted by CountryGirl on February 24, 2007 at 11:31 AM (CST)

10

“Eric, isn’t that illegal? It seems as if it would be.”

He resold a product he purchased at a marked up price. What part of that seems illegal to you? That’s basically how retail works.

Posted by rainking187 on February 26, 2007 at 12:11 AM (CST)

11

‘That’s how retail works’, a sentiment that applies as much to companies copying each other as it does to retailers selling items on at a profit.

It’s one thing to copy a product that is patented but it’s another thing entirely to copy something that isn’t and sell it cheaper - both may be morally wrong but only one is illegal and, well, that’s just smart business. And, yes, Apple leaves themselves wide open to (some would say deserves) this sort of behaviour.

At the end of the day, if your products are so over-priced someone else can copy them and sell them at about a fifth of the price (and presumably still make a healthy profit) then morally you can’t really take the high-ground because you’re just ripping people off.

Posted by Step666 on February 27, 2007 at 6:56 PM (CST)

12

The Question you failed to answer is, how much are said Samsonite socks?

Because I’ll be damned if I’ll pay 40 dollars for the Apple brand iPod Socks, if I could get something like that for a half - or even less - of the price.

Posted by something like that. on March 3, 2007 at 3:00 AM (CST)

13

Why is this an attack at Wal-Mart?
They just sell the stuff, others companies are smart enough to manufacture this stuff. Apple rips off its customers

Posted by tyronerboner on March 25, 2007 at 6:10 PM (CDT)

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