The little gadget was bootleg gold, a secret treasure I'd spent months tracking down. The miniOne looked just like Apple's iPhone, down to the slick no-button interface. But it was more. It ran popular mobile software that the iPhone wouldn't. It worked with nearly every worldwide cellphone carrier, not just AT&T, and not only in the U.S. It promised to cost half as much as the iPhone and be available to 10 times as many consumers. The miniOne's first news teases—a forum posting, a few spy shots, a product announcement that vanished after a day—generated a frenzy of interest online. Was it real? When would it go on sale? And most intriguing, could it really be even better than the iPhone?The article talks about legitimate factories running "ghost shifts" in which they turn out bootlegs at night while it is supposed to be closed, as well as copycat factories based 100% on real ones. Even replica cars get made.
It makes me wonder if it all comes down to design. Did the tPhone look ridiculous just because the crude backwards Apple logo on the box and the copycat desktop photo? What if the manufacturers had come up with their own? Maybe that's next.