Money Matters - Simplified

Beware the Attack of the Apple Clones

It isn't hard to see who is dominating this holiday season. Watch television for an hour and you're bound to see commercials for smartphones and tablet computers. But if you take a closer look you can see they're all just clones of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) products.I just envision product developers at electronics companies around the world waiting for Apple product launches to see what they're going to try and reverse engineer next.


It's just like an iPhone ... sort of
The smartphone copies started almost immediately after the iPhone was introduced and everyone saw the future. Now, most iPhone clones are made possible by Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android system, which has performed remarkably well against the iPhone. The latest comScore data says Google gained 6.5% market share from July to October and is less than 1% behind Apple's market share. HTC has probably done the best job creating iPhone clones with the my Touch, EVO and Droid Incredible.

Even mighty Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is taking some cues from Apple with the Windows Phone 7. If you can't beat them, might as well copy them.

A tablet for everyone
Before Apple joined the tablet market with the iPad it seemed to be a business that could never really find its way. But since the iPad we've seen a plethora of copies including the super-hyped Samsung Galaxy Tab this holiday season. The Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook Color is another tablet offering fewer features and a lower price than the iPad. How could Barnes & Noble possibly develop that without taking more than a few ideas from Apple?

Of course, this is nothing new for Apple. In 2004 fellow Fool Alyce Lomax wrote of the attack of the iPod clones, which did little to derail Apple's dominance in music. It looks like a repeat attack on Apple's phone and tablet products this time around. We'll continue to see products keep coming out with fewer features, lower quality and lower prices. That's great for the discount shopper but not exactly a threat to Apple's business.

If imitation is the best form of flattery the electronics world is doing its best to flatter Apple this holiday season.

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