Brazil Gets The “IPhone”: IGB Electronica and Neo One

The Neo One iPhone

Apple’s lawsuit earlier this year brought out some interesting responses about not only Samsung, but also the entire smartphone industry. While Samsung and Apple were in court in northern California before Judge Lucy Koh, many an Apple fanboy took to blogs and tech sites to show their love for Apple and “school” every other manufacturer on Apple’s greatness. One blog in particular (I shall not provide a name) took to pictures of Samsung’s phones past and present to show how the Korean-based company supposedly “copied” Apple’s smartphone design and feel. According to the tech writer, Samsung (like other companies, he thought) took Apple’s design and touchscreen and ran with them. In other words, the other smartphone manufacturers in the world (one tech blog excepted Microsoft in this claim) have one goal in mind: to rip off Apple by taking Cupertino’s top-notch design and place their names on the product.

I think that the above assumption gives too much credit to Apple. Apple must realize that the name of its smartphone and even its tablet are general names that remain general—even if the corporation has made brand names out of them. General names are everyone’s brand, while specific names distinguish one product from another, one company from another. Apple may not like to hear it, but “Gingerbread,” “Ice Cream Sandwich,” “Jelly Bean,” and “Key Lime Pie” require more creativity and brainstorming effort than “iPhone” or “iPad.”

The “iPhone” name may be known as Apple’s smartphone label, but a Brazilian company will now take up this general name. IGB Electronica, an electronics company in Brazil, is getting its own “iPhone”: a collection of smartphones the company makes will bear the same name as Apple’s smartphone collection. The first of the collection, however, will be named the “Neo One,” and will come with the following features:

  • 320 x 480 screen resolution
  • Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread)
  • Come in one color: white
  • Costs 599 Brazilian real ($287 US)
  • Quad-band GSM

One thing to notice about the Neo One iPhone is that it will run Gingerbread, an OS that is two major OS updates behind the latest Android 4.1 update (Jelly Bean). This becomes quite humorous when you consider that the “iPhone” will run the “Android” operating system. The 320 x 480 screen resolution leaves much to be desired, particularly when you consider that the American iPhone has a better screen resolution than the Brazilian one. The phone will come as an unlocked, GSM phone that can be used on four different radio frequencies. It can be used nearly anywhere in the entire world.

IGB is not using the iPhone name in a trademark violation; rather, the company applied for the name in 2000, long before Apple invented its first smartphone. With that being said, IGB Electronica has rights over the iPhone name until 2018. As for Apple, the company decided to use the iPhone name before receiving rights to do so—which led to a lawsuit between Cisco and Apple. When Cisco filed its lawsuit against Apple, the company claimed that Apple “had approached the company over the name a number of times, even using a shell company in an attempt to acquire the moniker” (CNET). Apple received the iPhone label in early 2007 before the iPhone’s first launch.