U.S. Company Imports Apple Peel 520 Phone Converter for iPod

| News

Go Solar USA has begun importing a device called Apple Peel 520 that adds cellphone capabilities to an iPod touch for a fraction of the cost of an unsubsidized iPhone. The device, which requires jailbreaking your iPod touch and installing an unauthorized app, was invented by two brothers in China, where it has been available for some time.

The Apple Peel 520 is a case with a transceiver, a SIM card slot, and a battery built into it. When coupled with software on your iPod touch, it allows users to send and receive SMS text messages and make phone calls. In China, the device sells for about $78, according to Bloomberg, while Go Solar USA has not announced pricing for this market.

The two brothers, Pan Lei (25) and Pan Yong (23) defended their creation in an interview with the news service, saying that it is not a counterfeit iPhone. Their creation requires Apple hardware, the iPod touch, and it shows, in their minds, that they, “are capable of coming up with something original.”

Apple Peel 520

Apple Peel 520

Referencing the common practice in China of counterfeiting devices from legit manufacturers, Mr. Pan told Bloomberg, “We’re also very creative. Not just getting a Nokia phone and copy, getting Apple and copy, or a Samsung phone to copy as well. It shouldn’t be like that.”

Go Solar USA is touting the product on the company’s Web site, including hosting videos and links to jailbreaking information for all iPod touch models.

The company’s Web site says, “The Apple iPhone is a transformative mobile device that packs the power to run millions of applications, play games, listen to music, and more into a powerful smartphone. Just about the only thing the iPhone can’t do is be purchased affordably. Thanks to Go Solar USA, however, there is an alternative!”

The company has not announced pricing or availability, however, nor has it responded to a request for information from The Mac Observer. An Apple spokesperson in Hong Kong told Bloomberg that the company is aware of the Apple Peel 520, and aside from noting that jailbreaking an iOS device voids its warranty declined to comment on it further

If the concept of the Apple Peel 520 sounds familiar, you might be thinking of the Apple patent application we covered on September 17th. The patent application, which was filed in January of 2010 covers precisely the concept of what the brothers Pan have created, and if granted could be a tool the company uses to send the Apple Peel 520 scampering back into the black market.

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Bryan Chaffin

This product raises a lot of questions for debate. Jailbreaking is legit, according to The LIbrary of Congress, so it makes it hard to argue The Apple Peel 520 is breaking any laws (perhaps Nemo can shed some light on that for us).

It’s also substantially more intellectually honest than a counterfeit iPhone.

On the other hand, these boys are still making a profit off the backs of Apple’s IP and efforts. How intellectually honest is that?

And, if you carried this product to an extreme endgame where no iPhones are sold because every customer is instead buying an iPod touch and this converter, Apple’s incentive to develop iOS is greatly reduced, which would in turn potentially eliminate the market for the Apple Peel 520, too.

It’s sort of a Grandfather Paradox in reverse.

In any event, if Apple is granted the patent I mentioned in the story, I should imagine the company would be able to prevent the sale of the device except for in markets like China where IP rights are simply moot.


“... making a profit off the backs of Apple?s IP and efforts. How intellectually honest is that?”

Why don’t you ask Belkin, Griffin, Zagg, Altec Lansing, and oh I don’t know, every other iDevice accessory maker. How let’s not stop there, let’s ask Adobe, Microsoft, Skype, YouTube…

What a seriously dumb question/statement that was Bryan.


This article states, on one hand, that this device will be “...a fraction of the cost of an unsubsidized iPhone”, yet also states that “The company has not announced pricing…”

So, if we don’t know what the price is, how do we know it will be cheaper than an unsubsidized iPhone - especially if you add in the initial cost of buying the necessary iPod Touch?

Bryan Chaffin

MyRightEye: If you want to compare making earphones and cases for an Apple device through Apple’s Made for iPod program to making a device that converts an iPod touch into a phone, go ahead. IMNHO, that’s a seriously dumb comparison.

The profits from iPhone sales pay for iOS development. The iPod touch is a profitable device for Apple, but only because the much larger profits from the iPhone cover most of the R&D costs for both iPhone and iPod touch, particularly on the OS side.

Bryan Chaffin

MOSiX Man, Go Solar USA’s verbiage is touting the device as being a fraction of the cost of an iPhone, though they leave out/gloss over the “unsubsidized” bit.

Also, as stated in the article the device sells for about $78 in China.


Belkin, etc., pay Apple’s licensing fees to provide third-party products approved by Apple. The rotten Apple Peel mentioned in this story takes an iTouch, installs unapproved software on it, breaks Apple’s EULA, then sells this product without getting any approval from Apple. I agree with Bryan, this isn’t honest and probably breaks import laws as well.


Sorry Bryan, but the vast majority of products that are made for iDevices are NOT part of the Apple “Made for” program. Your question was just dumb, and trying to justify it just makes it all the worse.

Bryan Chaffin

MrRightEye: I’m not justifying anything.  I was simply pointing out where your analysis ignores reality.

I’ll try again:

The vast majority of iOS development is paid for by iPhone, not iPod touch. There is zero comparison between making iPod cables, earphones, speakers, docks, and other such accessories—even those accessories made outside of Apple’s licensing program, though all of your example companies are within that program—and making a device that allows users to get (some of) the functionality of an iPhone at the cost of an iPod touch.

To argue otherwise is silly.


The Bloomberg article says that it costs $78 in China. Bryan’s article here says $780. Quite a difference.

Bryan Chaffin

Holy smokes! That’s an awful typo, Cress. Thanks for catching it. I corrected our article accordingly.

Thanks! smile

Lee Dronick

The Bloomberg article says that it costs $78 in China. Bryan?s article here says $780.

Well as they said about King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth “For the want of a decimal point the sale was lost.”

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

On the other hand, these boys are still making a profit off the backs of Apple?s IP and efforts. How intellectually honest is that?

Well, so are you and I. grin.

Bryan Chaffin

Bryan Chaffin said:On the other hand, these boys are still making a profit off the backs of Apple?s IP and efforts. How intellectually honest is that?
Well, so are you and I. .

Ha! Well that I won’t argue with, but even here our businesses don’t take profits away from Apple.

Well, maybe your proselytizing for Android has, but even that’s still a different issue! smile

But please note that my point about “working off the backs of Apple” was merely one question that I saw this product raising. I don’t think this is cut and dry at all. For instance, I’ll stress that it’s way better than counterfeiting a device, just as The Brothers Pan offered.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s not up to people outside of Apple to uphold Apple’s product distinctions and pricing distinctions, and not exploit arbitrage opportunities caused by those. Apple has had to rely on increasingly complicated EULAs, design patents, actual lawsuits, and the like to set those distinctions up, and has dealt with some setbacks to enforceability such as the DMCA exemption on jailbreaking.

From a hardware perspective, the iPod Touch is easily capable of making calls onto the switched telephone network, whether with this Peel addition or with software like Google Voice that I now use to make calls from my MBP. Apple prices and positions iPod Touch as a gateway device to iPhone. That actually worked on me a year ago! Great strategy! But when that device is out in the wild, people will want to do different things with it than the glorious *magical* people at Apple either intended or approve of. It’s funny how just about everyone else in the tech industry accepts that at some level, but it’s not a good enough way to operate for Apple anymore.

Surely Apple will find a way to squash this particular product. I just hope that 100 or 1000 similar flowers might bloom and more people will accept the nice products Apple makes without accepting the ridiculous strings.


Apple may very well fight this product for unlicensed use of the dock connector, which Apple is very protective of.


Honestly, I think Apple should just open the damn phone. We can get apps for our Macs from non-iTunes sources, this is all just making less and less sense. I love my iPhone, and I love how it integrates with my Mac; that’s actually what keeps me away from Android, even though many of them are quality devices; I also don’t want to have to mess around with jailbreaks every time a new software release comes out.

They have done a complete turnaround in their philosophy with the iPhone vs, the Mac (which I’ve been using for 15 years now, NeXT and OS X were like manna from heaven, so what’s up with iOS?). I think it’s going to hurt them in the long run. Maybe my next iPhone will be a touch.


It’s a hack. Apple probably won’t fight it. Nor will they lose many sales. You have to jailbreak your iPod to get the software, which screws you up when there are updates. Sure that can be easily managed, but Apple customers don’t want to manage.

It’s like Hackintoshes… whatever…


Ha! Well that I won?t argue with, but even here our businesses don?t take profits away from Apple.

Tenuous, you can also argue that this encourages iPod Touch sales, where there might have been no sale at otherwise.

You might as well say that fring on an iPod takes profits away from Apple.

Also; my iPhone is two and a half years old. I am taking profits away from Apple.

But this is all irrelevant because every single one of us here is a consumer.

Last one; finding new companies to demonise in the name of Apple harms the community image, and is therefore possibly taking profits away from Apple.

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