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Apple warns of phony iPods

Apple Computer last month began notifying its service partners that some companies are illegally manufacturing digital music players that look very similar to its various Apple iPod models in an attempt to pawn them off to unsuspecting buyers.

Two of the most commonly counterfeited iPods appear to be the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle. The imitation players, which often sport nonstandard headphone jacks and lack a dock connector, are sometimes stamped with a valid Apple serial number, Apple told its service providers. The company said several of the fakes have been found to use the specific Apple iPod serial number "6U545TK2TJT."

In addition to lacking a dock connector, Apple said counterfeit iPod nanos also ship without a standard USB cable and pack a screen that is slightly longer than the nano's. The players run different operating system software and have also been known to include a Play/Pause symbol on the center select button (which the nano does not).

Meanwhile, forged iPod shuffles are said to include an on and off switch that lacks a repeat option. The players, which are otherwise strikingly similar to the the shuffle, also fail to include a battery or status indicator light. Counterfeiters have been packaging the players in fake iPod shuffle retail boxes that include the words "Digital Music Player" on the top.

Some of the players also ship with documentation that prompts the user to copy their music to a folder on the device instead of using iTunes, another telltale sign the iPod is not genuine.



In a bulletin to its service providers, Apple said it is taking the matter very seriously and any information provided by buyers of the counterfeit players may help the company in dealing with the matter.

Service providers who come across one of the fakes are asked to photograph the device, find out where the customer purchased the item, and escalate this information to Apple's technical support group, along with any serial number included on the player.