Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is Apple Behind Psystar's Cheap Mac Clone?

It seems that everybody in the tech world is talking about Psystar and their $399 Mac clone, but nobody, however, seems to know much, if anything, about the company itself.

Why is that; what exactly is going on here? I have a theory, and it's just that, a theory, and, as theories goes, well, it's a pretty far fetched one, but you never know, it could be true?

Just what is this ridiculous theory of mine?

Simple: that Apple is behind the whole thing!

Yes, you heard me right! But why would Apple be behind Psystar and what evidence would support my wild theory? Well, with all of the trouble with Vista that Microsoft is having these days, coupled with all of the interest in OS X, I am just saying that maybe, just maybe, Apple is testing the waters to see what kind of interest there might be in licensing OS X to other PC OEM's, that's all.

Now for evidence, I will simply point out these two points, as flimsy as they are:

ONE: Apple has remained mysteriously quiet on the whole affair - too quiet! I mean, think about it - Apple is a sue happy company, one that is more than willing to sue the city of New York for it's "Big Apple" campaign that features a logo that resembles Apple's own, the way a Mercedees SL 550 resembles one of those tiny, little Smart cars of theirs! So, why the silence on a company that clearly violating Apple's EULA?

TWO: As pointed out in an article by the Gaurdian's Charles Arthur:

"The Psystar site talks a lot. OK. The site was registered in 2000, according to whois, but what's odd is that searches on Google and on don't turn up anything about the company before this week. Zip. Zero. Nada.

I called the Miami Chamber of Commerces and its Better Business Bureau. They've never heard of it."

Now both of these are just interesting points, not, of course, any type of proof. It gets more interesting, however, when the Guardian points out this bit of weirdness:

"And then we thought we'd look closer at the location they're in. And that's where things got really strange.

The address had changed completely."

But that's not all folks, as Charles goes on to add:

"OK, that's got to be the weirdest thing I've ever seen in years of covering technology. The first address, on Google Maps, looks like your average row of suburban houses.

The second - new! - one looks far more office-y, or at least industrial.

But you know what's most interesting? Apple's complete silence on this. It hasn't said a word. I suspect that it's waiting to see if anything emerges from this. It hasn't stopped the Mac world working itself into a lather, poring over EULAs and talking about EFIs; it's just nobody seems to have bothered to pick up a phone and call."

Yes, as Charles put it, this has got to be "the weirdest thing," and it makes me think that Psystar is nothing more than a dummy corporation that is acting on behalf of Apple to test the waters, so to speak.

After all, let's not forget that Dell, IBM (at the time), HP, and I believe one other major PC OEM, have already begged Steve Jobs, in the recent past, to license OS X to them. How do I know? Simple: because his greatness said so! I remember it so well. We all know how Michael Dell feels about OS X, don't we? Well, I, for one, sure do. I remember him, in a video interview, talk about how happy he would be to build a, Dell based, OS X machine for the interviewer, just as soon as Apple would allow him to!

Yet another statement by Jobs comes to mind that makes me wonder even more about all of this. That is the statement that Mr. Jobs gave to Walt Mossberg, when Walt interviewed both Jobs and Gates together just last year. In that interview, Steve told Walt, and very candidly, that he considers Apple to be more like Microsoft - a software company, rather than a hardware company! Yes, there you have it, Jobs himself had admitted that Apple really was a software company, and just like Microsoft!

Naturally, even though Jobs considers Apple a software company, first and foremost, it still, however, is a hardware company, even if it be one only secondarily. Apple has to protect it's hardware division, of course, as it's much too valuable to just abandon nilly-willy. But when you think about the fact that Microsoft probably makes considerably more on sales of Vista than Apple does on hardware, well, then my "wild n crazy" theory is not all that crazy, now is it?

After all, I remember reading several sources saying that Apple could always let other's build cheap Mac clones - as they would tend to get people addicted to the Mac, and thus, leaving them to wonder just how much more of a better experience that a Apple branded Mac would be - because frankly, even though Dell and others might be able to build a cheaper Mac, they, in my opinion, could never build one that is as beautiful or as functional. Only Apple does and could build such a machine.

Also, remember: that cheap pc box's bring in very little, if any, real profit, so why not let others build them? It would, however, free up Apple to really start bringing home the real bacon with it's OS sales!

So, in the end, whether a person buys an ugly, less enjoyable Mac clone, or they buy a more beautiful, functional and elegant one from Apple, it's Apple that still gets the sale - and a lot, lot more sales than they ever could have gotten from Apple's efforts alone.

If my crazy and wild 2 cents of a theory is correct, then all I will say is that the days of Microsoft's Windows dominance is about to come to an end, and rather quickly, because Windows users are looking, if not down right begging, for an alternative to Windows and all of the hassles that Windows brings with it. Frankly, as great as the potential for Linux is, it just doesn't cut the mustard as a desktop now - and, most likely, never will!

So, that leaves only one real alternative - OS X, be it in the form of a clone, or from Apple itself.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this, Wednesday, April 16, 2008.

Foot note: Philip, in his blog, "FixYourThinking," also has a very interesting theory, on this subject, that you can read here.

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fixyourthinking said...


That certainly is interesting. I think Apple is somewhat waiting it out. It's not a rumor that could harm sales - so I think that's one reason they are waiting.

Apple, over the last two years, has become a different company in regards to litigation. They have surprising not filed suit against small guys. They could have filed a lot of suits against Bill Palmer, Jack Campbell, and the like ... but they didn't - they let them implode on their own. (Although there was more going on in the background than you know)

I am a lover of children's literature said...


I'm not really sure what is going on; it's just fun to speculate, and since I write, "on-the-fly," I had to post something to keep my promise to post once per week day. I thought this would be fun.

However, I find it rather interesting, that just today, on Psystar's homepage, they stated that they couldn't take any orders because they simply can't process any credit cards? How fancinating that they don't really seem to want to sell - they seem more interested in gaging public interest! But why - that is what I want to know?

Jobs killed off the clones years ago, but we all know that what Jobs says and what he does can be quite different. He's changed his mind, when others bet he wouldn't, so I think it's still a possibility that Apple might try, if only on a limited basis, some type of cloning.

But who knows, certainly not me.

fixyourthinking said...

It's an interesting theory - I posted it as a footnote to my story.

KC said...

Apple doesn't chase alot of little OEMs making clones of iPods, iPhones, etc. in China. Don't read too much into Apple's silence.

Anonymous said...

I do have a counter-theory : what if Dell is behind all this ? Checking Apple's ground to litigate solely on their EULA for OS X.
What actually keeps Dell from selling a mini-like computer and then leaving it to the user to install OS X ?

I am a lover of children's literature said...

Dear Anonymous, you have a point, it could be Dell, but it's hard to say? I know that Michael Dell was personally very keen, if at all possible,about offering an OS X Dell box!

However, we will just have to wait and see what's really behind this rather strange tech story; it's anybody's guess at this point.