That’s right folks you read that right, you can now turn your regular old iPod touch into a phone and it will only cost you $57. A Chinese company has created a new device called the Apple Peel 520, which once clamped over your basic iPod touch turns it into a phone ready to make calls and send text messaging (with a little tweaking though). The device was invented by a 22-year-old programmer who lives in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
The Apple Peel 520 has a case that contains a battery, dock connector and SIM card that enables voice calls. But don’t be fooled by thinking that this is just plug and play because you will also have to install special software to enable the text messaging function as well as to allow the device to properly work with the iPod Touch (you will have to hack into the software of the iPod in order to download the necessary applications).
Once installed, the Apple Peel gets around five hours of talk time and 120 hours on standby, according to a review posted on Dailytech.com. The driving factor behind this is of course the high cost of the iPhone in China. The iPhone, which was officially launched on the mainland last October, more than two years after its debut in the US, costs between $588 – $740 while an iPod Touch is around $235. The Apple Peel sells for $57. The knock-off phones are usually cheaper and contain functions, such as wireless Internet, that are not available on the actual phones sold through legal channels.
There is no doubt that all these knock offs of popular phones is hurting sales of the real iPhones in the East. The ironic thing about this is that most of Apple’s factories are actually in China, which means that more than likely they could charge less for the phone there and still make a profit, but Apple won’t do that because they aren’t about just making a profit, they want to make the most profit possible as demonstrated by their exclusive agreement with AT&T for the iPhone here in the United States. Apple could really put a dent into this “gray” electronics market in several parts of the East by simply lowering the price of the real devices in these countries or perhaps even looking into developing a “lite” version of the iPhone that was cheaper to produce but had a few less capabilities. As it stands, China’s massive “shanzhai”, or black market phone industry based mostly in Shenzhen is an industry characterized by the massive production of copycat mobile phones and other devices, which are sold at lower prices and often with more localized functionality than global brands.
The developers of the Apple Peel currently have no immediate plans to mass manufacture the gadget as they say that those plans are on hold until the company can ensure there are no intellectual property right violations, which off the top of my head I can’t really see that there are. It’s a completely different device that is essentially a third party add-on to another product, they might have to change the name but besides that Apple cannot really dictate who creates other products that add on and or expand capability of their existing products though I am sure they will. These guys seem to at least want to go about it the right way though saying that they want to check on Apple’s policy on “outside devices” as well as try to reach the company to see if they have any interest in the gadget. Somehow, I don’t think Apple would be interested, but maybe they should be because it seems that these folks just showed them how they can drop the price point on their product and/or a variant of it and increase legitimate sales tremendously (Can anyone say iPod Plus).
Now before you get to Googling “Apple Peel 520” and trying to figure out how you can get one you need to know that there are some technical glitches that you need to be aware of. According to a Chinese review translated into English on M.I.C. Gadget, the Apple Peel does not support 3G, there’s a small lag time when calls are made from the iPod Touch and deleting and forwarding text messages is not available among other minor complaints.
What do you think? Is this just the evolution of technology? Or is it just copyright and patent infringement? Should Apple take them to court or buy the technology and mass produce it themselves in China? We want to hear from you.