updated 03:20 pm EST, Wed January 9, 2008
iRiver iPhone Clone
iRiver will enter the cellphone market with a device that bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone, say reports from the Consumer Electronics Show floor by PCMag. The Korean company, which normally makes portable media players, is exhibiting a prototype at the Las Vegas event known only as the "iRiver GSM phone" but which clearly takes cues from the Apple device. Its interface is almost entirely driven by an icon-based touchscreen layout with direct resemblances to the iPhone's front menu. Unlocking the device requires a near-identical sliding motion while other swiping motions help control scrolling and other navigation. Linux will underpin the OS.
Many hardware details are still undetermined but will share the same focus as Apple's device but with some potential advancements. The handset will revolve almost exclusively around its 3-inch, 480x272 touchscreen with only a single physical control at the bottom, and will focus on music and movies; however, the iRiver device will include support for music subscriptions through Real's Rhapsody service and should include Adobe Flash Lite to play video from YouTube and other sites without needing a special client. 4GB of internal flash memory is likely but not guaranteed, though mobile digital TV is expected.
Whether Wi-Fi will be included is uncertain. The device makers have already settled on 3G Internet access via HSPA and so will have less reason to include a fast short-range connection to close the gap. The confirmation has given iRiver an opportunity to criticize Apple for its decision to ship the initial iPhone with slower EDGE access, which rates only as 2.5G by many observers.
"It would be ridiculous for the phone to be 2G or 2.5G at this time," iRiver spokesman Owen Kwon says.
iRiver says it intends to release the GSM phone by the end of the year and that it should be less costly than the $399 iPhone. A release in the US is hinted in the unveiling and could potentially support AT&T, though iRiver has not said whether it expects legal challenges from Apple over the similarities in look and feel between each other's phones.