The highly anticipated iPhone 5 may already be facing competition in China -- and it hasn't even been released to the public yet.
The GooPhone I5 runs on an Android platform, and may have a 3.5-inch display instead of the 4-inch display rumored to be a feature of the iPhone 5. Otherwise, the two smartphones seem pretty identical.
Raw Story reports the GooPhone will include a quad-core 1.4Ghz processor, 8 mega-pixel camera, high-def screen and desktop theme mimicking the iPhone’s iconic aesthetic. The clone also features a honeybee logo on its back panel and boasts a markedly cheaper price: $300 dollars, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
If this cloned phone is the real deal, Apple may have bigger problems than a Chinese price war.
According to Gizmodo, GooPhone, the smartphone business of Shenzhen Shenma Lianzhong e-Commerce, is planning on suing Apple if it tries to release its iPhone 5, citing patent violations.
Plausible? Perhaps in China, writes Robin Feldman, Professor of Law at UC Hastings and author of the book "Rethinking Patent Rights."
“It would be unfortunate if a country’s patent system were designed to allow this type of behavior," Feldman told Wired.“If this behavior had occurred in the United States, Apple would have an action for misappropriation of trade secrets.”
In a report released Thursday by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, the trade organization warns of the dangers of "trademark squatting."
Trademark squatting is becoming big business in China as Chinese companies and individuals understand the “first to file” system. They target foreign trademarks that are not yet registered in China but have the potential to be, and pre-emptively file those trademarks in their own name, thus blocking the possible entry of the original trademark owner in the Chinese market.
This not the first time GooPhone has attempted to beat mainstream manufacturers to the punch. According to Wired, the Hong-Kong based company has produced knockoffs of the Samsung Galaxy S3, the HTC ONE S and the iPhone 4. In the case of the Galaxy S3, the advertisements used by GooPhone appear to be press shots of the original product.
Copied products in Asia are edging into a very lucrative market. China has recently overtaken the U.S. in overall smartphone sales, according to the latest research from the International Data Corporation. In 2012, China will account for 26.5 percent of all smartphone shipments, up from 18.3 percent in 2011 and nearly nine percentage points higher than U.S. smartphones shipments.
The other major issue presented by the GooPhone I5 and its ilk are the lawsuits that will surely follow.