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Jun 17, 2011

Apple Inc: Often Imitated But Never Equaled

If it’s from Apple it must be good.

Apple is hell bent on setting trends and other companies seem bent on... copying Apple! Rival firms eager to cash in on the popularity of Apple products have unabashedly tried to imitate everything Apple related for years, from the operating system, to computers, to iPad and the iPhone, to trademarked games on iPhone, to the App store, down to its website.

South Korean firm Samsung incurred the ire of Apple after the former’s Galaxy cell phones and tablets showed uncanny resemblance to the iPhone and iPad. Apple sued in a bid to keep its closest rival in the booming tablet market firmly at second place.

Then, there’s Chinese tech manufacturer Meizu Technology Co., which has been making iPhone clones in China. Meizu even went beyond imitating the design of Apple’ popular mobile phone: It’s also trying to replicate Apple’s marketing strategy.

And you’ve got to give it to the Chinese for its remarkable skill at coming up with clones. Merely hours after the launch of the iPad 2, Chinese Apple copycats were able to release a very accurate copy of the product. Could there be a Trojan horse within Apple’s core people with direct contact to Chinese manufacturers?

A clone of iPhone game Super Mario popped up on iTunes with the same trademark red cap/white glove and moustache. Some people were fooled, but those more familiar with the original Super Mario and Apple’s propensity for being copycat magnet were not.

Global staffing company Manpower has adopted the model of Apple App store as a guide of how things are run within the company. Manpower CIO Dennis Edwards calls the Manpower version, a Solution Store.

Apple’s website has been hailed as among the best websites ever developed and its clean, trendy, minimalistic, and user-friendly interface has not escaped copycats either. Currently, there are over 40 known Apple-inspired websites operating out there, and the number is increasing.

They say that imitation is the best flattery, but the blatant copying of anything Apple-related only goes to show that other companies seem content to just let Steve Jobs’ and his army of innovation geniuses lead the way in product design and marketing strategy. Analysts say these clones are not causing major damage to Apple sales-wise, because while the poor clones are offered at a lower price (and lower quality, too), majority still prefer to buy Apple products. Besides, all the efforts these companies spend cloning Apple products only create additional media mileage for Apple, a constant reminder to consumers that if it’s from Apple it’s not only good. It’s really, really good.

What gives Apple the extra edge as a company that is often imitated but never equaled is its one-track-mind approach to get the user experience perfect. Other companies like Nokia had showed promise in this respect, but for some reason, that drive slowly faded in the background.

Apple clones are a dime a dozen and it’s easier to find them (check out eBay), and while companies are able to cash in on Apple’s reputation for excellence, consumers are quick to notice the difference. It’s a good thing these so-called tech experts are working for these companies because if they worked for Steve Jobs, they would have been fired long ago for their lack of originality.

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