iPod speaker clones increase, confusing buyers
Original? A knockoff? Or just a non-exclusive design made by a random Chinese factory for sale to multiple vendors? Over the past several years, small iPod accessory makers looking for quick growth have become dependent on web sites such as Global Sources and Alibaba.com, which connect manufacturers of little white speaker systems with Western companies looking to jump on the iPod audio bandwagon. The results have varied from interesting to disappointing: once sold only by Pacific Rim Technologies, the Cube Travel Speakers have now been resold in cosmetically identical form - often times with much inferior sound and build quality - under myriad other small brand names, sometimes producing complaints to Pacific Rim from disappointed buyers of other companies’ versions. Similarly, the number of variants on Sonic Gear’s years-old i-Steroid series of “vacuum tube” speakers, including last year’s iTube from GINI Systems and Recoton’s just-announced blackVault 2.1 (shown), is growing every month, varying only in small details.
This week brought a surprise: two companies with bigger brands - and past reputations for releasing at least aesthetically novel products - joined the “me-too” crowd. At last week’s CES and Macworld Expo trade shows, and for the first time in the United States, two major companies simultaneously announced virtually identical iPod speaker systems: at Macworld Expo, DLO showed iBoom Travel, a small clock radio, at the same time as rival Jensen at CES was announcing JiMS-120, a system with the same general exterior design and features. Can you tell the units from each other using the photos below?
Inspected up close, the units exhibit modest aesthetic differences - for instance, the companies’ names, the shape of the clear plastic molding around their iPod docks, and the color of their backlighting. But those small issues aside, iBoom Travel and JiMS-120 look like twin brothers, shipped from the same assembly line. As a significant differentiator, Jensen’s JiMS-120 includes a free remote control, while iBoom Travel does not.
The trend shows no sign of stopping: the number of generic, iPod-ready speakers - including clones of Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi, Altec Lansing’s iMmini, and numerous JBL products - continues to grow. Is this the future of the iPod speaker market? Or, after years of sifting through hundreds of forgettable third-rate speakers, will iPod accessory buyers finally reach a point of saturation, relying on novel, acoustically-tuned designs from better-known vendors? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated below.
- Nike to offer customers cash in proposed FuelBand settlement
- iPod touch 6G: Unboxing + comparison photos
- Apple debuts ‘Apple Tested Cases’ web page
- Nest debuts Nest Cam, updates Nest Protect and Learning Thermostat
- Monster: Apple booted us from MFi program over Beats lawsuit
- Report: Apple killed Beats home audio project after acquisition
- Apple to drop first-gen Apple TV, iPod classic support as of Sept 8th
- New Apple TV to feature motion sensitive remote
- Media companies balk at $40/mo. plan for Apple TV service
- Former Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers leaves Apple
- Apple partners with PayAnywhere for Apple Pay
- Report: iPhone 6S to retain 16GB base model
- Apple sends out invites to September 9 event
- iPhone 6S to get front flash mode? (Update: Rose Gold color on the way)
- Report: iPhone 6S to support Motion wallpapers
- Rumor: iPhone 6S Plus to have smaller battery, packaging revealed?
- Tech21 Evo Mesh Sport for iPhone 6 and Evo Elite for iPhone 6 Plus
- Thonet & Vander Koloss Bluetooth Speaker
- iHome iSP5 SmartPlug
- Spigen Apple Watch Nightstand S350
- DODOcase Lorna iPhone Wallet Case for iPhone 6 Plus
- SwitchEasy Blocks Customizable Dock Building Set for Apple Watch
- DODOcase Maritime Collection Multi-Angle Case for iPad Air 2
- Kanex iPhone ChargeSync Dock for iPhone 6 + iPhone 6 Plus
- Onanoff Sound Cover for iPad Air + iPad Air 2
- Native Union Clic 360 for iPhone 6
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 12.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 8.4 + Apple Music
- CE Week 2015: IK Multimedia, Monowear’s Apple Watch bands + More
- Live From CE Week 2015: Brand New iPad, iPhone + Mac Accessories!
- Opinion: The ‘Grand Experiment’ of shifting to Google Photos
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?