British developer Starbrite has developed software that enables a PocketPC to emulate the iPod, and Apple isn’t happy.

The pBop software fills a Pocket PC's screen with an image of the iPod. The Pocket PCs touch-sensitive screen enables users to control pBop via the virtual iPod's scroll wheel, allowing users to navigate iPod-like menus with their fingers.

The pBop's interface is just like the iPod's, with songs arranged in a series of nested menus, which can be browsed by artist, album, and genre. A Starbrite spokesperson told Wired: "It works exactly the same way, except it's software and it costs $20."

However, the pBop does not support AAC – Apple's digital music format of choice. Nor does it support WMA. The pBop software plays only MP3 files.

Imitation = flattery?

The spokesperson added: "pBop was developed because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's a good interface to use. It's easy to browse and select songs. It's an interface that's popular. People know it. It's very simple to pick up and use."

Intellectual property lawyer Brian Ferguson told Wired: "I'm just speculating, but I'd be surprised if Apple didn't patent-protect some of the ideas in the iPod. If it does infringe on the patents, end of story."

Indeed, Apple is not happy with the software and Starbrite has received a letter from Apple claiming the £15 software was a "pass off" of iPod. Following this the company renamed the software pBop (it was originally called pPod.)

Starbrite spokesman Ryan Kelly told MacCentral. "We were surprised to hear this as we have heard of no one buying a Windows-powered Pocket PC application, being confused they are buying a hardware device."

Kelly said that Starbrite has "cooperated fully to address Apple's concerns." The developer changed the layout of the software so the touch pad is now located between the menu and the buttons. Starbrite changed pPod's name to pBop, and also put a disclaimer on its Web site stating that the company has no connection with Apple or the iPod.