Monday, April 14, 2008

PsyStar Mac Clone: An Emerging Trend (or Prank)?

A Florida based PC maker has begun manufacturing a Macintosh clone called "OpenMac" at the retail price of $399. The machine has a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, a 20X DVD+/-R SATA drive, a 250 GB 7200 RPM hard drive and comes packed in a tower styled white case.

The open hardware comes with an OSX operating system written by an open project community and is widely available on the internet for Intel PC users to download. However, PsyStar says you can buy Leopard separately and install it on the Open Mac. Certainly, PsyStar would further provoke action against itself if it installed Leopard itself on this clone.

A Mac clone? Some might remember the days in the mid-1990s when the Macintosh was cloned by StarMax, Radius, DayStar, UMAX, and Power Computing. One huge difference between the Mac clones of that era was that Apple licensed these other companies to try and expand the Mac user base. The Apple brand was in trouble and clones were viewed as a way for Apple to stay alive. And then Steve Jobs came back to Apple and canceled or bought out all contracts with the cloners.

Since Jobs return Apple has taken the position, as Phil Shiller says, "We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac." Jobs and Schiller knew that Apple needed to sell hardware and software to recover the cost of R&D. Apple being a technology innovator has heavy R&D costs and the only way to recoup their investment in innovation is by selling hardware and software at a slightly higher price than PC hardware.

When Apple decided to make the transition to Intel in 2006 they opened the doors to a new cloning threat and modified versions of OS X 10.4 and 10.5 or Open Mac projects to run on generic PC hardware. Since Apple moved to Intel, a number of hardware manufacturers including Michael Dell of Dell Computers have indicated they would like to make and sell PCs with Mac OSX installed as the operating system.

Many expect Apple to take tough measures against PsyStar and the news today reported that their web site where a person can purchase a OpenMac had been shut down for unknown causes. While Apple might avoid going to court to protect its copyright there are many options open to rendering this machine broken with system updates as they did with jailbroke iPhones. But actions Apple takes to disable users machines remotely comes at a price to their reputation as a company concerned with "customer satisfaction."

The question PsyStar raises is with the success of devices like iPods, iPhones and the widespread adoption of Apple software on PC computers, will we start to see an emerging new Mac clone industry?

UPDATE NOTE: One day after the story appeared, PsyStar brought its site back up and had changed the name of its computer from Open Mac to Open Computer. Then just as quickly PsyStar disappeared completely and attempts to visit the companies offices in Miami were found to be non-existent and PsyStar a faux vendor. I cannot believe how many of the mainstream tech media publishers were reporting this story with no names, bad phone numbers, web site down and no actual office location. Was this all some kind of weird late April fools joke?

1 comment:

N8 said...

I wonder if anyone ever actually found one of these and used it or was it a complete hoax?