updated 08:25 pm EST, Tue November 16, 2010
Legal issues may scuttle teen entrepreneur
A 17-year-old American college student has found a way to obtain apparently-genuine white component parts for the iPhone 4 long in advance of the planned spring 2011 debut of the much-sought-after official white model, the New York Observer reports, and has created a kit people can buy to convert their black iPhone 4s into authentic-looking white models. Questions remain, however, about the sourcing of the parts, the use of trademarks and the legitimacy of the operation which may land the youngster in legal trouble and raise the ire of Apple.
Queens, New York resident Fei Lam, who speaks fluent Chinese, was able to forge a connection to someone at Foxconn, the Chinese company that builds the iPhone 4 for Apple. Lam is selling the complete kits, which include white front and back panels, a white home button and tools and instructions for opening the iPhone 4, for $300 at his web site (he has temporarily reduced the price of the kit to $280). Lam also sells the front or back panels separately for those who do not wish to do a full conversion.
So far, Lam claims to have "created" more than 500 "white iPhone 4s" and sell more than $130,000 worth of the parts, which he says is helping to put him through college. Lam has yet to receive any official correspondence from Apple, though he has gotten a "threatening" letter from a private investigator warning him that the parts may be stolen or counterfeit, along with other issues that could eventually bring legal action against the teen. Lam repudiated the allegations.
So far, Lam isn't changing his practices or website, but says he intends to contact a lawyer in case Apple does make an official move against his business. [via New York Observer]