Feeds

Phone cloners eye 3G upgrade

It's a real Nokia, honest, and I paid nothing for it

The Power of One Infographic

Nokia is a status symbol in Asia, but as Prada and Gucci have found out to their cost, even when it comes to status symbols, punters will make do with a knock-off.

Now they can get a more authentic knock-off.

Qualcomm has signed a chip agreement with a leading Taiwanese supplier whose chips often find their way into fake Western phones, including Apple and Nokia clones.

MediaTek produces silicon for a number of markets, but the most unusual and interesting is manufacturers of branded imitation 'dual SIM' versions of well known handset designs that were originally produced by top Western manufacturers such as Nokia. The handsets are only sold in the Chinese market, but the occasional one pops up on eBay.

Thanks to the PRC's somewhat selective enforcement of intellectual property laws - the Government tends to turn a blind eye when the infringer is home grown - the fake phone business has grown like topsy. Earlier this year, before Apple officially launched the iPhone into China, our own Rik Myslewski counted no fewer than eight Apple clones. Downstream MediaTek has prospered, now employing over 4,000.

Now Qualcomm has formally given the company wider access to its WCDMA patent portfolio. The additional irony is that Qualcomm is itself an intellectual property company, that owes its success to the successful defense of its innovation. Qualcomm points out that the IP agreement only covers MediaTek and not its customers - they'll need WCDMA licenses too.

Nokia was recently scornful of MediaTek's rapid growth. CFO Rick Simonson said MediaTek make lots of chips, because lots of them failed.

The phones "have a high [number of] quality problems, and you have to do numerous subtractions from the number [of] chips that are supposedly made in MediaTek to get in to the actual devices that are out on the street," he told analysts.

It further highlights the difficulties for Western companies of doing business in Asia - where the local genius for imitation and lax interpretation and enforcement of IP has made fashion and low grade electronics almost impossible to conduct. The best idea is always someone else's.

MediaTek has been in trouble before: in 2004 the MPAA pursued it for including DVD decryption code in its chips, and BT is suing it in the US for patent infringement. MediaTek denies the charge. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.