March 9, 2004 10:25 AM PST
Jukebox ware gives Pocket PC an iPod look
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A small British company has released jukebox software for Pocket PC handhelds that closely resembles the design and function of Apple Computer's popular music player. Unlike the iPod, the $20 software, known as pBop, plays only MP3 files and not the AAC files that Apple's iTunes Music Store sells.
StarBrite Solutions, the U.K. startup, originally called its software pPod but said it changed the name to pBop, after Apple suggested that the original name might infringe on Apple's iPod trademark.
The company has also made other tweaks to the software in response to Apple's concerns, including altering the layout of the software buttons and including a disclaimer on all its marketing material that it has no connection to Apple or the iPod.
An Apple representative was not immediately available for comment.
StarBrite director Ryan Kelly said his company was trying to cooperate fully with Apple. Kelly admits that the software was inspired by MP3 players, including the iPod, but said some of Apple's concerns were "surprising."
"Apple also felt pPod was being 'passed off' as an Apple iPod," Kelly said in an e-mail interview. "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."
It is not uncommon for companies to tap the popularity of Apple gear, with desktop themes that emulate the Mac OS being a popular option for Windows XP. Apple has been known to take legal action, though, when it feels that an imitation is a little more than flattery.
In the most notable example, Apple sued PC maker eMachines in 1999 for that company's eOne--an all-in-one computer that resembled the original iMac.
Kelly said the company also hopes to develop versions for Palm handhelds as well as for smart phones running Windows Mobile or Symbian operating systems. Kelly said his company is also thinking of adding support for Windows Media Audio (WMA) files because of strong demand.
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