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Media (Apple) Businesses Media Handhelds Apple Hardware

Pocket PCs Masquerade as iPods 334

agwadude writes "Wired News has a story about a British software firm called StarBrite that is selling a virtual iPod that runs on Microsoft's PocketPC operating system. It mimics the iPod interface exactly, including the unique scroll wheel. It's a mere $20 but this seems right considering it's only software, and it only supports MP3. MacDailyNews has a shorter story."
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Pocket PCs Masquerade as iPods

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  • Missing something? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArmenTanzarian ( 210418 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:40PM (#8511736) Homepage Journal
    Is the software really the selling point of the iPod?
  • KAPUTT (Score:4, Funny)

    by locknloll ( 638243 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:40PM (#8511741) Homepage
    or as we say in German: slashdotted. Darn.
  • Very Awesome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by emo boy ( 586277 ) <hoffman_brian AT bah DOT com> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:40PM (#8511745) Homepage
    I love the black version. That would be hot if you could change the color of the ipod screen and what not. They need to move to a color LCD version. That would be expensive but I think it would totally be worth it. I already pay a lot for an iPod why not trick it out?

    • Re:Very Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nebrie ( 530329 ) * on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:46PM (#8511834)
      Other than adding cool but useless features that do little more than drain battery life at an awesome rate is there any other point to the ipod having a color screen?
    • Re:Very Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Patik ( 584959 ) * <cpatik@gmailUUU.com minus threevowels> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:47PM (#8511851) Homepage Journal
      They need to move to a color LCD version... I already pay a lot for an iPod why not trick it out?
      Because it's totally unnecessarily. A color screen is useful only for graphics, and the iPod doesn't need that. Visualizations aren't necessary because you use the thing while walking so you're not looking at it, and they just waste CPU cycles (i.e., battery life). You could have pictures, but what good is it on such a little screen? The iPod is a music player. It's a bit different than with cell phones because of the lack of communication functionality.

      A better use for the money would be wifi (for bluetooth-like syncing, not for uploading songs), longer battery life, and more durable parts (it's durable now, but it couldn't hurt to stiffen up some parts).

      Besides, if I want my iPod to look prettier, I'd want it in the design of the case, not on the screen.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        but it couldn't hurt to stiffen up some parts

        That's what SHE said...

      • Re:Very Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Endive4Ever ( 742304 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:05PM (#8512112)
        wireless iPod to iPod syncing would be a cool thing.

        Apple would be forced to prohibit it, of course. And we'd be forced (compelled, actually) to implement it.
      • Because it's totally unnecessarily. A color screen is useful only for graphics, and the iPod doesn't need that.

        While I agree with you completely, I could easily see Apple using a kind of inexpensive in-between technology to introduce some colour to the display, if for purely aesthetic reasons (this is Apple we're talking about).

        Some of the newer low-cost Nokias have pseudo-colour screens that look like the real deal, until you try to put some graphics on them and realize how chunky they come out. It's

  • software... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spytap ( 143526 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:42PM (#8511763)
    Software doesn;t change the fact that storage is still a problem, especially since you need to use some of it to install this program. For the price of the software plus a memory card you can just buy a real MP3 player...
  • by commo1 ( 709770 )
    Long live reverse-engineering! Besides, apple wants to make money on the music, not the hardware. What harm could this be?
  • by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:42PM (#8511767)
    Fastest reaction time from Apple lawyers ever. Man those guys are good (or bad, depending on how you think of it).
    • You are right (Score:5, Informative)

      by jared_hanson ( 514797 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:55PM (#8511973) Homepage Journal
      Well, you are correct in more ways than you realise.

      Apple had their way [yahoo.com] with these guys and forced the renaming of the product (to pBop) and slight modifications to the interface.

      Slashdot is behind the times. This story would have been meaningful a couple days ago.
      • Re:You are right (Score:3, Informative)

        by ChuyMatt ( 318775 )
        It looks like Apple was extremely nice to them. Just had them change up the look to not COMPLETELY mimmic the iPod, change the name and make it clear that it was not their baby. They did not sue the pants off the buggers, nor try, so i think they handled it very well.
    • by justMichael ( 606509 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:58PM (#8512019) Homepage
      Actually it wasn't as fast as you think. The story was on MacSlash a week ago and most likely someplace else before that.
  • Difference (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:42PM (#8511769)
    It's a mere $20 but this seems right considering it's only software, and it only supports MP3.

    Well, there's where the iPod emulation starts to fall apart. It should be $60+ if they want to emulate more of the experience. ;)
  • by SoTuA ( 683507 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:42PM (#8511779)
    this guys will be getting a Cease and Desist shortly. Apple doesn't look kindly on this stuff.

    Besides, the beauty of the interface is how it is designed for your hands, not your pointing device. How do you get feedback and all that on a touchscreen, be it with your fingers or worse, with a PDA-pencil...

    • Maybe that's why it costs $20 instead of $300?
    • this guys will be getting a Cease and Desist shortly. Apple doesn't look kindly on this stuff.

      Actually this is old news. They have already had talks with Apple and they have already changed a few things. You can read about it here [macworld.com]. Basically they changed the layout some and changed the name to pBop.
  • by D-Cypell ( 446534 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:43PM (#8511791)
    A piece of software mimicing an IPod running on a piece of software mimicing an operating system.
  • by Greedo ( 304385 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:43PM (#8511795) Homepage Journal
    MacCentral [macworld.com] is reporting that "pBop's resemblance to the iPod was unmistakable, especially when the product first launched: It was originally called pPod, and featured an interface that was practically identical to third-generation iPods."

    it was so similar, in fact, that Apple asked them to make some changes, including the name.

    Starbrite has "cooperated fully to address Apple's concerns" but, if you ask me, it is still pretty much a rip off of the iPod interface (GUI and physical). Isn't this kind of thing legally protectable?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ten years of legal battles with regards to GUI's (Apple vs Microsoft) and spreadsheets (1-2-3 vs Excel) would indicate not. Both companies brought lawsuits against the new kid on the block claiming look-and-feel were violated.

      Both cases went on for years and were either settled out of court or just fizzled out IIRC.
    • I don't get it... (Score:2, Informative)

      by univgeek ( 442857 )
      If Apple's legal team was ok with it and has cooperated with Apple fully, what is your problem?

      Do you have some information that Apple's legal team doesn't?
    • Nope. Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., No. 93-2214 (1st Cir. Mar. 9, 1995)held that a "menu command heirarchy, and all expression therein, is an uncopyrightable 'Method of Operation'" See http://www.panix.com/~jesse/lotus.html
  • Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by gh0ul ( 71352 ) * <.jdfmcok. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:43PM (#8511798) Homepage Journal
    MacSlash [macslash.com] had this item on March 01st. See it: here [macslash.org].
    • Re:Old News (Score:3, Funny)

      by y0bhgu0d ( 168149 )
      wow. i am now dumber having read the comments in that thread.

      several people suggested that it was legal because HP has licensed iPod development from Apple... because the pictures showed an iPaq running the software.

      they claimed that this was HP's iPod.

      ow. ow. ow.
  • by m0rphin3 ( 461197 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:44PM (#8511811)
    considering that 20 gb hard-drives for pocket pc's cost an arm and a leg, this is hardly an 'ipod killer'.

    $20 for mp3 player software? why? just make an ipod skin for some free software.
  • by gL4cier ( 678091 )
    It doesn't seems to support aac files. All it has is pretty interface and ability to play mp3 files. (not even ogg or wma) What happens to just using xmms or winamp?
    • You're right. But the point is since this "virtual software player" mimics the iPod. So it's supposed to have the ability to play aacs that you purchased(or won from the pepsi bottles) or that's what i'd assumed. But now it's just another mp3 software player with the looks of ipods THAT COSTS 20 bucks.
  • by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:46PM (#8511838) Homepage
    No extra functionality, MP3 only, not an iPod, and it only runs on top of MS software. Lame.
  • Tad expensive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:48PM (#8511865)
    And the difference between this and this [pocket-tunes.com] with this [pocket-tunes.com]. Or simply this [microsoft.com].

    Do people really want to pay $20 purely to get a skin for their pocketPC, that has less functionality(only mp3's) than something they can download for free.
    • Re:Tad expensive? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dasmegabyte ( 267018 )
      You've heard the term "less is more," right?

      For some people, that's very true. Most portable audio player's interfaces have a lot of options on screen at the same time, and require a good deal of precise input. Most of the time, it's not hard to tap a 10 pixel area 3 mm accross with a stylus, but try hitting the same area with your thumb while running.

      You can't do it. You hit the wrong thing. It sucks. In fact, I sold my PocketPC for precisely this reason (since all i used the PPC for was reading boo
  • working info (Score:2, Informative)

    by lub ( 188080 )
    buy one here [handango.com] (with screenshot).

    And the Google cache [66.102.11.104]
  • by humandoing ( 237262 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:49PM (#8511878) Homepage
    Not trolling or anything, but to me, this just seems to prove (again) how well Apple has been doing things these past couple years. Would companies be trying to mimic their every move if Apple was on the wrong track?

    I don't really like the fact that the software is a total rip-off of Apples UI design, and that it may (potentially?) reduce iPod sales (although probably to a minimal degree, if at all), but it does seem to very much re-inforce that consumers are generally extremely pleased with Apple's products, and the carefully thought out design that goes along with them.

    Mikro$haft might get a Klew eventually, but probably not, and in the meantime, I'll rejoice in my Mac OS X bliss, and never look back. (Converted Mac user since July 2002)
  • pictures (Score:5, Informative)

    by penultimatepost ( 597514 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:50PM (#8511893)
    pictures [pocket.at]
  • by switcha ( 551514 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:53PM (#8511938)
    Neither does the pPod software magically enhance the limited storage capacity of most Pocket PCs, which typically have up to 64 MB of internal memory, enough for about a dozen songs.

    *YAAAAAAWN*

    Hold still little pig. I just have some lipstick I want to put on you...

  • by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @02:53PM (#8511947)
    "It works exactly the same way, except it's software and it costs $20," said a spokesman for the company, who wished to remain anonymous.
    What's next, presidential candidates that want to remain anonymous?
  • by wdavies ( 163941 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:08PM (#8512152) Homepage
    Wow, a lot cheaper, than launching an international legal court case. Just get em slashdotted...

    Think Different.

  • by breakinbearx ( 672220 ) <breakinbearxNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:09PM (#8512162)
    One has to wonder... being that you can now get the 4Gb CF hard drives (i.e. MuVo 2, mini iPod), you can now stick one of these in a PocketPC, and get an "iPod" that can store 800 songs, has wireless internet access, is an address book and all that, plays movies (wmv's, divx), and PLAYS QUAKE!? now that would be kickin, and would be worth the extra cash you would shell out for the form factor of a real iPod.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) * on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:13PM (#8512208)
    I have been using PocketMusic from PocketMind [pocketmind.com]on my Samsung i700 PocketPC/Phone [samsungusa.com]for a while, and it's amazing. I have zero iPod envy (I can't balance a budget, get e-mail, web surf, or make a call on an iPod, but I can play my Oggs on my PocketPC -- even to the extent of dagging them from my Linux box [freshmeat.net]).

    I mean this to take nothing away from the exquisitely designed, iPod, but I no longer have the desite to possess a single specialized device for every eFunction in my life. Sure, I sacrifice some sizzle sans iPod, some corporate penis-size sans blackberry, and some cuteness sans the postage stamp-sized phone du jour, but I love just having it *ALL* on my Samsung.
    • I no longer have the desite to possess a single specialized device for every eFunction in my life...I love just having it *ALL* on my Samsung.

      You are an Emacs user, aren't you...

      ===--===

  • You have lost. You will be sued.
  • So it's an MP3 player with an iPod skin? What's the problem? It's not like there are any Windows Pocket PC systems out there that actually have the REAL interface that the iPod does. And what about all the hardware connections that the iPod has? Hm... Sounds like a snow lews day to me. ;P
  • by Jaguar777 ( 189036 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:19PM (#8512264) Journal
    Posted by pudge on 13:39 09 March 2004
    from the i-smell-a-lawsuit dept.


    Shouldn't that be the iSmell-a-lawsuit dept.?
  • by avi33 ( 116048 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:28PM (#8512365) Homepage
    Wow.

    Hundreds of doomsayers predicting the demise of this, and not one mention (modded up at least) of Windows ripping off the Mac interface...and Apple LOSING the subsequent lawsuit.

    According to one legal analysis [duke.edu], Microsoft's legal strategy was that of "breaking Apple's nebulous 'gestalt' and 'look-and-feel' theory into specific identifiable elements and then knocking each one down like uncopyrightable bowling pins...demonstrating nearly two dozen windowing systems...that used elements Apple claimed to own.

    Doesn't sound much different here, I doubt they'd waste their time on it.
  • What's that - that smell?

    I can almost - *sniff* - yes, like rancid meat and sugar.

    Good Lord! Apple released the lawyers! Everybody, run for your lives!
  • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:45PM (#8512581) Journal
    I installed the pPod demo last Friday mainly to piss off my roommate (big iPod fan) and I must say that besides looking kinda cool it doesn't do much else. Using a stylus as in place of your fingers worked haphazardly at best, and I am certainly not going to run out and buy a microdrive for it. It's mainly just a fancy skin for a MP3 only player (if it had support for alternate formats, then I'd reconsider). If I want to compete with my friend's iPod, I find it much easier to use programs like Net Use to create a network drive and stream the MP3 wirelessly to my PDA. Sure this limits me to staying within my network, but if I want to go out, a 256MB CF card has more than enough storage for any short trip.
  • by System.out.println() ( 755533 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:56PM (#8512709) Journal
    I think this will have the opposite effect of what many people think. PPC owners can check this out, realize it's a damn good interface, and then they might decide that the iPod is worth the dough.

    Or, they go look for a CF hard drive for more space, learn about the iPod mini being much cheaper than the drives by themselve, and wind up buying a mini instead.

    However, I don't see many people using this *as* an iPod... it's just not cost-effective. I bet some people who only need a few songs will use it, but more than likely those people would not be in the market for a real iPod no matter what.

    I think pPod will actually increase iPod sales.
  • So the PocketPCs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bob670 ( 645306 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @04:01PM (#8512760)
    are pretending to be something that doesn't suck to use? It's bad enough business relies on the ass of an interface called MS Windows, now they want to foist it on me in palm and phone based devices? No thanks, Apple should make a PDA and put PocketPC and Palm OS out of thier respective miseries, although as phones evolve I would guess the whole standalone Palm thing is near death as is.
  • by rixstep ( 611236 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @04:06PM (#8512812) Homepage
    StarBrite became StarDimm - 'Service Unavailable'.
  • HP Logo??!?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rixstep ( 611236 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @04:11PM (#8512861) Homepage
    Ok, aping the iPod is one thing, but in using the HP logo, as seen in this screenshot [handango.com], aren't they going too far - in fact 'asking for it'? Carly could be the 'woman scorned' here...
  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @04:14PM (#8512902) Journal
    This thing wasn't developed to be "an iPod killer". Hardly. The developers didn't even bother trying to mimic the iPod with all its functionality. What it DOES have is a pretty face. A pretty face and a well-known face. These guys know that Apple's iPod is the best selling mp3 player out there and they want to capitalize on that. That's it. Nothing more. They aren't trying to revolutionize anything, not trying to invent some new killer app. They just want to make a few bucks riding the iPod's success.

    Of course, they're probably gonna get nailed for it, but hey, it was fun while it lasted.
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @04:50PM (#8513286) Homepage Journal
    Saw the story on macslash last week and downloaded it this morning. the site was already down but I googled and found another place to download it from. usable enough, I guess. cute little PPC-demo app, I guess. I just got this iPaq a while ago from work and besides the fact that it has no easy-to-find battery level indicator (grr, my ancient Palm has that) I wouldn't use a PDA for music, anyway, but that's just me. mostly I just downloaded it to check it out and play with it some.

    I don't see it in my programs folder but it's in the start menu. without a physical groove, it's almost impossible to use your finger to "scroll" songs but it's not too bad with the stylus. no exit, either, just choose 'hide' from the main menu. not sure if that means it's still running and taking cpu cycles/battery life. plays music just fine, but took a million years to move 27 mb worth of music to it over USB.

    summary: kinda cute, kinda neat, I don't plan to use it so I don't care about the outcome of the lawsuit. :-)
  • No problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zpok ( 604055 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @05:07PM (#8513552) Homepage
    They emulate a piece of hardware that is so stupid simple that as a GUI it'll actually work. That's OK, not original, but not stupid either.

    Apple will have no problems with that. They may have to change a few details, but as long as this is
    1) only software, that;
    2) doesn't totally emulate iPod's own (proprietary) software;
    3) doesn't insult Apple's product...
    there's no legal problem at all.

    The only - philosophical - gripe might be they try to run with someone else's good idea, but then again, most everybody does. That doesn't stop people from buying Windows - or rival products that emulate Windows - or downloading Linux, or buying Apple mp3 players, or ...

    You might have an issue with me naming linux, Apple, Windows, ... but if everybody had to be 100% original in order to produce, it'd be a weird world.

    Copying in it self isn't good, copying good ideas is only sensible. In the end, let lawyers and marketing sweat the details, and let us not waste time with these superficial issues.

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