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Woz backs Chinese 'Apple of Far East' in play for US hardware market

'I’m playing with mine. I like it so far' grunts Apple co-founder

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Apple grandee Steve Wozniak has said a Chinese firm mockingly dubbed the "Apple of the Far East" could compete with the fruity firm on its home turf.

The fruity firm's co-founder jetted over to China to give his backing to Xiaomi, a tech company which sells smartphones and consumer electronics based on its own flavour of Android. The company is apparently so keen to ape the fruity firm that its founder Lei Jun dons Steve Jobs' famous uniform of black shirt* and blue jeans to deliver product announcements.

Woz appeared at an event in Beijing alongside Jun over the weekend, where he sung the praises of Xiaomi's latest smartphone. It has not been revealed whether Woz was paid to offer his support.

“I’m playing with mine. I like it so far. I’ll tell you if I have problems,” said Woz. “Xiaomi has excellent products. They’re good enough to break the American market.”

However, Woz denied that Xiaomi could be compared to Apple.

"Xiaomi is in a very different age. It’s hard to compare apples to apples,” he joked.

According to a profile in the New York Times, Jun decided to emulate Steve Jobs whilst still at college in 1987. His firm manufactures smartphones which bear a superficial resemblance to a certain well-known brand of mobe made by a firm based in Cupertino.

However, in an interview with Reuters, Jun claimed his firm was more like Amazon or Google than Apple.

"We're actually an Internet company," he said. "We've already got a business in mobile phone hardware and we want to add to that an Internet platform. We can earn money from that, once it's established." ®

* In Jun's case it's a golf shirt rather than a turtleneck...

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