11 incredible Apple imitations

Tablet competitors
Most tablets have copied the iPad in some way

Inspiration is a two-way street, and Apple's inspiration often comes from elsewhere: Jonathan Ive happily lists famous Braun designer Dieter Rams as an inspiration (and you can really see the Braun T3 radio in the original iPod), and Apple recently had to hand over £13 million (about AU$20 million, US$21 million) when it used the iconic Swiss Railway Clock in iOS without permission.

Most of the traffic, though, does seem to be heading in one direction: Apple's products are so widely imitated, people are copying things it hasn't even made yet.

Come with us as we discover some of the Apple kit that has, ahem, inspired other firms' products. If you're allergic to the word Samsung, you might want to sit this one out.

1. eMachines eOne

Its case is two-tone, white and translucent blue. The computer and the display are in a single case. And it runs Windows. eMachines' 1999 eOne wasn't so much inspired by the Bondi Blue iMac as a blatant, Windows-running copy of it, and eMachines' hope that it could avoid legal action by using a slightly different shape didn't pan out. Apple sent the lawyers in and eMachines settled for an undisclosed sum.

2. Samsung S i9000

11 incredible Apple imitations

The phone says 'Samsung' but it's got iPhone written all over it

We're sure you'll agree that Samsung's 2010 S i9000 doesn't look anything like the 2008 iPhone 3G, apart from the shape, and the rounded corners, and the grid of icons, and the shiny bezel, and the detail around the camera lens, and the buttons at the side. Nope, if you discount all of those things there's hardly any resemblance there at all.

3. Speerit

11 incredible Apple imitations

Siri's presence has been felt across a whole range of brands

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the Siri team must be feeling just great: Siri's distinctive look and feel has been imitated by Samsung's S-Voice, by the Speerit Android app and, as 9to5mac.com also discovered, by an app called Siri For Android that merely invoked Google's own voice recognition software.

4. Gooapple V5 3G

I think we can let the Gooapple V5 3G marketing copy speak for itself. "Gooapple follow the step of Apple, released new generation smartphone: Gooapple V5 3G. The new phone use same retina screen like iPhone 4S, the display resolution is 960x640 pixels. Gooapple V5 3G also upgrade the camera to 5.0 mega pixel." It's an iPhone 4-a-like running Android 2.3.

5. Dell XPS 15z

11 incredible Apple imitations

Absolutely not a MacBook Pro, in any way, shape or form... hang on a minute...

If it looks like a MacBook Pro, walks like a MacBook Pro and quacks like a MacBook Pro, it's probably a Dell XPS 15z. That's what Engadget reckoned, anyway, noting that while Dell said the laptop would have an "innovative new form factor" of some sort, "the company neglected to mention it would look like a MacBook Pro... From the aluminum chassis to the placement of the speakers, DVD drives and majority of ports... heck, even the tiny arrow key bars on the backlit keyboard and feet on the bottom of the chassis are cribbed from Apple's product."

6. Asus Eee Top PC

11 incredible Apple imitations

Squint. Squint a bit more. Is it an Asus Eee Top or a 2011 iMac?

Asus is no stranger to Apple-inspired design - its 2004 W1N looked like a PowerBook and its S5Ne looked like a white iBook - and its Eee Top ET2203T PC looks like the 2011 iMac, albeit an iMac built after a few too many shandies. All-in-one design? Check! Black bezel? Check! Big silvery chin? Check! In fairness to Asus, the ET2203T also introduced features the iMac didn't have, such as a stylus-controlled touch screen and several brightly coloured stickers.

7. Every tablet, ever

11 incredible Apple imitations

It's quite hard to make a tablet look different from an iPad, so why bother?

It takes more than fiddling with the aspect ratio to make a tablet look different from the iPad, and it seems that many firms can barely be bothered doing even that. We don't really need to list all the iPad-a-likes, do we? We do? Okay then... *deep breath* HP TouchPad BlackBerry PlayBook Zenithink ZT180 A1CS X220 Kindle Fire Samsung Tab Kogan Agora Tornado FlyTouch 3 StarPAD 7 ViewPad 7 Folio 100 Dell Streak 10 iRobot Meizu MBook Google Nexus Ramos W9 GooPad Mini Cube U9GT5 iPed inPad LifesPadzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

8. Samsung Chromebox

11 incredible Apple imitations

Here comes Samsung again - hands up who can spot the 'inspiration' here

Hat tip to Dustin Curtis, who spotted Samsung's Chromebox and noted that "all small computers are built with circular openings in the bottom, right? It's a natural method of construction. How else would you build such a thing?" How else indeed?

9. Smart Cases

11 incredible Apple imitations

Anymode caused quite a stir with its Galaxy Tab smart cases

In 2011, Samsung was unfairly blamed for the arrival of Galaxy Tab smart cases, which looked and worked an awful lot like Apple's newly introduced iPad 2 Smart Covers. Imagine! Samsung accused of copying! This particular incident was a third party's fault, though: accessory firm Anymode was a little too inspired by Apple's design, and while Samsung claims that it "reviews and approves all accessories" for its mobile products, it says that Anymode was using the "designed for Samsung Mobile" logo without Samsung's knowledge or approval.

10. Smart Watches

11 incredible Apple imitations

Every man and his dog is making an iWoof... I mean, iWatch

The iWatch isn't even out yet, but Samsung's making one too - and so is Google, and Microsoft, and LG, and quite possibly your gran.

11. Potatoes

We've saved our favourite till last. If you live in Yorkshire, beware a "chubby white man in his forties who [has] dark blonde hair and an Irish accent": according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, he's been flogging iPads made of potatoes. "A conman tricked a victim into buying an iPad which turned out to be a bag of potatoes," the Evening Post reported. "A price of £200 was agreed and the men drove to a nearby cash machine on Commercial Street where the £200 was exchanged for a black laptop bag that the victim believed contained the iPad." The next sentence contains a whole world of hurt. "It was not until after the victim left the area and opened the bag that he discovered it contained some potatoes," the newspaper says.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.