From a Chinese clone to Taiwanese competition

A few days ago the 808 Android surfaced. Many sites have noticed it, including Engadget and MyNokiablog (I don't know who was first), and also Android Authority was quite upset about it. In case you missed it, here it is.

In this picture, you can also see that the design of this "hot" device is exactly the same:

And like if they never really understood what it actually says there, they even copied "Carl Zeiss 41 MP sensor" on the lense... Needless to say, this cheap device (much more pics in the link) doesn't offer anything near that kind of quality.

This is a typical Chinese clone, something made to look exactly the same as the original. But suddenly - and not from China - there is a far more serious smartphone producer announcing devices that look quite a lot like the ones Nokia announced two weeks earlier...

Many people consider the recently announced HTC Windows Phone 8 devices as clones of the Nokia Lumia design. And if you compare the HTC Windows Phone 8X...

with the pictures from the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820...

...it's remarkable to see how HTC also chose for extremely bright colors and an overall design that looks quite similar, to say the least.

And just now that I'm writing all this, the news comes that Nokia would be planning to sue HTC.

I quote from PC-Tablet.com: The reports are saying Nokia is preparing to get HTC 8X banned in various parts of the world from going on sale when it will launch in November. Nokia has said in reports that the front-face of HTC 8X looks identically same as of the Lumia 820 followed by side-curves of the phone body.

The news has been welcomed by blogs like MyNokiaBlog ("damn right") and Nok4Us ("hell yeah!"), but to be honest it leaves me with a lot of questions - apart from the one if the rumour is true.

But suppose it is...

1. The front face tends to look similar in many different smartphones nowadays. Setting the Lumia 820 apart from the crowd were the bright and different colours I'd say, but I guess it's hard to claim bright colours?

2. Nokia would probably have to prove industrial espionage as well, since it's hard to believe that HTC would have designed these devices in about a week or so. Some have had doubts about the video with the HTC design team (below), but Claude Zellweger has been the principal HTC designer for years (here's a recent interview with him from Engadget), so the video is not staged.

 

3. What is the role of Microsoft in all this? Did HTC get the inspiration for their remarkably colourful and not so very unique new designs from there in some way? Many seemed surprised by Steve Ballmer's overwhelming enthusiasm during HTC's announcement - and he must have seen the similarities with Nokia's newest Lumias as well.

Ballmer is even quoted saying "the experience in Windows Phone 8 is unlike any other. HTC built this hardware from the ground up to showcase the software." I'm quite sure that didn't go down very well over at Nokia HQ.

4. To Microsoft, all companies launching Windows Phone 8 devices are extremely important. Microsoft desperately needs to get between Android and iOS to insure its future, since no doubt the future will be mobile. On the other hand, Nokia has put its own future in Microsoft hands, so anything that is good for Windows Phone 8, is not only good for Microsoft but for Nokia as well.

Will Nokia jeopardize it's relationship with Microsoft as soon as it will sue HTC for producing what they call "signature" Windows Phone 8 devices? And suppose Nokia would win such a case, would that make Microsoft any happier? Unlikely.

The design and colours of HTC's new devices, combined with Microsoft's manifest admiration for them, is a lot worse to Nokia than some Chinese firm making a clone of the Nokia 808 PureView - it's too worthless to spend a lawyer's time on. But this sudden love affair between Microsoft and HTC seems to have an impact on Nokia's view of its relationship.

Even apart from the question if Nokia is actually planning a lawsuit against HTC (which I find hard to believe), the marriage with Microsoft suddenly seems a bit crowded.