Whenever you have a successful product you are inevitably going to see fakes appear. Unscrupulous people looking to make a quick buck or two from suckers will try to come up with something that looks and acts close enough to the real thing. Some of the fakes are perfectly good, and the people who buy them are getting a bargain, but most of them are getting ripped off. Some are even funny, here are five fakes from the last year that have made me chuckle:
Nikon batteries – Sony thought they were being so original with the exploding batteries, but they weren’t the first. A number of fake Nikon lithium-ion batteries sold in Europe exploded last fall. It turns out that the reason they were so cheap is that they didn’t have any safety mechanisms or circuit protection in them. There’s a lesson here – if a guy stops you on the street and tries to sell you cheap batteries you should probably just keep walking. Or get a fireproof camera bag.
iPods – There have been all sorts of efforts to knock-off the iPod. Some companies boldly and blatantly steal design elements for their own mp3 players, while others just recreate the whole thing and call it their own. My favorite, though, are the fakes that showed up last spring. It wasn’t too hard to tell that something was wrong with them once you used them for a while – they didn’t have a dock connector. The bad guys had gone to the effort of putting real serial numbers on the fakes, but they didn’t think anyone would notice the missing connector. Good plan.
Memory sticks – If you are going to sell fakes you are probably going to get busted at some point, so you might as well go for it and try to make as much as you can while you still can. You can buy all sorts of fake memory products from eBay. One Japanese student got caught and fined last week, but not before he had sold more than 400 Memory Sticks. He didn’t even worry about selling items that worked – they were essentially just chunks of plastic. He didn’t think someone would get upset about that?
RedBerry – China is crazy for all things technological and they are consuming new products at a record pace. Instead of waiting for the BlackBerry to arrive, especially since it would probably be expensive anyway, an enterprising Chinese phone company just decided to create their own. Not only is the RedBerry name suspiciously similar, but the device looked the same and the service worked the same. Not surprisingly, RIM wasn’t happy.
Ferrari – I love this one just because of the audacity of it. Knocking off an mp3 player or a phone is one thing, but knocking off one of the all-time great vehicles ever made takes a whole new level of courage. If you want to look good, but can’t afford the price tag of the real deal, you can have the Chinese version for about $10,000. No one will know the difference. At least not until they touch it or hear the engine, anyway.