British developer Starbrite Solutions has released a Pocket PC jukebox program that brings iPod-like functionality to a handheld PC. Retailing at $20 (£11), the software plays MP3 rather than ACC files, but to the casual observer presents rather like the highly popular iPod.
However, while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, pBop has flattered the iPod too much as far as Apple's legal department was concerned, and the product went through certain changes to ensure the resemblance wasn't too close.
When first launched first launched, it was called pPod, and featured an interface that was practically identical to third-generation iPods. Its software included a navigation menu remarkably similar to the iPod's, enabling users to browse stored MP3 files by artist, track name, and album. Touch buttons and a touch wheel interface, all in the same configuration as the iPod's, allowed users to navigate using their thumbs rather than the Pocket PC's stylus.
'Apple felt pPod was being 'passed off' as an Apple iPod,' says Ryan Kelly, a Starbrite spokesperson. 'We were surprised to hear this as we have heard of no one buying a Windows-powered Pocket PC application being confused they are buying a hardware device.'
Starbrite questions the charges of physical resemblance between an Apple iPod and a personal digital assistant that is running Microsoft's Windows Mobile (formerly Pocket PC) operating system. The diminutive pBop device does run a variety of software and store a variety of files, including MP3 audio files.
Starbrite developed PBop to give Pocket PC PDA users a functional, easy-to-use MP3 player that Kelly says is inspired by some of the most popular MP3 players on the market, including the IPod.
Kelly says Starbrite has cooperated fully to address Apple's concerns. The developer changed the layout of the software so the touch pad is now located between the menu and the buttons. Starbrite changed pPod's name to pBop, and also put a disclaimer on its website stating that the company has no connection to Apple or the iPod.