Flattery by Design: The economics of ripping Apple off

17 August 2018

We’ve seen some laughable iPhone clones over the past decade, but none of them have been quite as pitiful as this. Motorola is the latest smartphone manufacturer to get on the Apple-copying bandwagon, and its new handset, the P30, essentially looks like a bad attempt to mimic Apple’s design prowess.

Oh, wait, that’s what it actually is.

Motorola is getting appropriately roasted all over the Internet for stooping so low. Well, most of the Internet is roasting Motorola… one person, though, is trying to justify the company’s actions.

Chris Burns, writing for SlashGear, says “Motorola P30, an iPhone X copycat, actually looks pretty great.”

Well, the iPhone X will take that as a compliment.

When the Motorola P30 was leaked earlier this week, all I could see was the latest Android-laden iPhone X.

Oh, and it features a gradient-colored exterior copied from Huawei.

But it’s okay! Motorola can make money from its copy-and-pasted design!

… several China-based companies have taken to cloning the iPhone X industrial design as best they could. When you’re in a place where making a good, cheaper copy isn’t looked down upon, it’s rewarded, it makes good business sense to make said copy.

Motorola is not being “rewarded” for its decision to clone Apple’s device. It’s being nigh-universally, and deservedly, ridiculed. Burns is the one doing the rewarding by using “business sense” to justify Motorola’s choice. And if the P30 sells well? Congratulations to Motorola for making cash in the least admirable way possible.

When you see companies taking the top spots in your country, doing so with devices that copy iPhone designs, you go ahead and do the same.

Combat copiers with copying. Makes a lot of sense.

It doesn’t matter if Motorola sells a billion of these — that kind of design process is not okay by any standard and should not be supported. Motorola went as far as imitating the marketing wallpapers and photography Apple used for the iPhone X. That wouldn’t have happened if it thought it was exhibiting a sliver of originality.

Beyond the moral obligations of smartphone designers and makers, there’s this phone. It’s looking like it’s going to be a pretty awesome phone, especially if this charger mockup means there’ll be transparent plastic around its exterior.

Wait… beyond moral standards, we get transparent plastic chargers? Why did no one tell Uluroo this?

The only reason the Moto P30 might look good is that the iPhone X looks good. And the P30 looks way worse: it has a huge chin bezel. That’s not a “pretty great” smartphone, that’s a “shameless, subpar, unjustifiable ripoff” smartphone. Making money off of it is not a good enough reason for it to exist.

To clarify, Uluroo isn’t saying that there should be zero overlap from one smartphone design to another. That’s an unachievable goal. But smartphones like the Moto P30 should not exist because the designers behind them were literally attempting to make the device look like a competitor’s device. Borrowing features is okay, but piggy-backing on the success of an entire design is not. The Moto P30 doesn’t look exactly like the iPhone X, but the only differences between the designs are because of unavoidable technological barriers (e. g. the chin) and not actual choices.

It seems that when money is involved, originality has to ride shotgun.