Jony Ive isn’t going to be happy about this one. He recently made his opinions on cloning Apple designs known, and he wasn’t gentle about it. Ive stated that he doesn’t consider imitation flattering, calling copying his team’s designs “theft” and “lazy”. Microsoft recently purchased Nokia’s smartphone branch as the company is the top manufacturer of Windows smartphones. While they promptly began the largest layoffs in company history, it seems the hardware brand will continue for Nokia, outside of Microsoft’s control, as long as they’re not making smartphones. Those remaining at Nokia won’t be members of the design team, because Nokia’s releasing their least original design ever. The Nokia N1 is their latest tablet, and it’s clearly a clone of an iPad Mini. If Nokia’s decision to start copying Apple wasn’t enough, this device is strange for another reason: it runs Android instead of Windows. Has Nokia abandoned Windows technology?
Microsoft has a long history of copying Apple, so it’s not surprising that a company so intertwined with Microsoft would follow suit. However, Microsoft usually stops at copying features and design elements, rather than create an outright clone. Nokia has distanced themselves from Microsoft in another way: they made a direct clone of Apple’s hardware.
The Nokia N1 has the same shape, rounded edges, buttons, drilled speaker holes, and camera positions as the iPad mini. It even has a case accessory that is clearly Apple’s smart cover. The internals are different, and the operating system is pure Android, but the hardware team clearly took Apple’s design for the look of their own tablet, a move that should disgust anyone in favor of advancing technology. Innovation doesn’t come when companies copy one another, it comes when they compete with new designs and ideas.
The Nokia N1 will be powered by Intel, and will also feature the new USB C class connector. This is a reversable design that looks, externally, like Apple’s lightning connector. The N1 is actually 0.6mm thinner than the iPad mini 3, coming in at 6.9mm, the same thickness as an iPhone 6. Small improvement over the iPad mini aside, this is otherwise a direct clone of the iPad mini, and it runs Android instead of Microsoft’s own operating system. It’s certainly an odd device, and a bold move. Will Apple be able to fight these clones, or will the legal battles prove to be more trouble than they’re worth?
Sources: The Verge, TUAW
Update: This article was updated to clarify the separation between Nokia’s independent tablet company, and the smartphone branch of the company that has been purchased by Microsoft.