Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Psystar Mac Clone: Good or Bad?
Many are reporting and giving their 2 cents on Psystar's cheap Mac clone called the Open Computer, or Open Mac, and this includes just about everyone from the main tech press, blogs and and those posting on forums, etc.
Tom Reestman, writing in his blog, one of my all time favorites, The Small Wave points out that the Psystar clone may not be quite the deal that some make it out to be.
What grabs most people's attention, naturally, is the low $399 entry price for the base configuration, and especially as it compares to the Mac Mini. However, as Tom correctly points out, this does not include the price of OS X itself, and without OS X, well, you just don't have a Mac! If you want to run Leopard then you either have to buy it and install it separately, through some hacking process, or you can purchase it pre-installed for an extra $155. When you factor in the cost of Leopard and that fact that it will cost you an extra $50 for Firewire, then it's NOT half the cost of a Mac Mini, or as cheap as they want you to believe it is. And then there's the question of support, which as Tom also pointed out, is rather questionable at best?
In a post by Gordon Haff comes this very interesting observation:
"Are any possible savings worth getting a PC/OS combo that the OS maker won't support? (Not from where I sit.) Does PsyStar have the right to pre-install an OS for which it (apparently) doesn't have an OEM license? (Seems dicey.)"
Now that is a very valuable point, and I too must agree, it's really isn't something that's worth it in the end. Yes, I suppose, if you had problems with any future OS X update, then you could always scrub it and install a Linux distro instead, or heaven's forbid, you always could even install Vista if and when OS X stopped working on your unsupported machine; but what's the point of buying a computer to run OS X if you not sure you will even be able to run it in the future? Apple has been around along time and, will mostly likely, still be around for a long to help support you, but how long Psystar will be around is questionable, and especially so with a gargantuan corporation like Apple legally breathing down it's neck? After all, it's the, "It Just Works," nature of OS X, and it's simplicity and ease of use that makes people want to use the Mac in the first place.
Naturally, Psystar thinks that they not only have the legal right to abuse Apple's EULA, but they actually claim that Apple is acting illegally and is acting in a monopolistic way by not allowing others to do as they please with OS X! These are very bold claims to make indeed, and if they wish to prove their point then they better have some deep pockets. Very, very deep pockets indeed.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, writing for ZDNet Wrote:
"What’s far more likely to happen is that Apple takes the same approach as with the iPhone and release updates that would trash these installations. Not nice, but as we saw with unlocked iPhones, Apple is not above this kind of behavior. However, if Psystar continues to offer OS X, a cease and desist letter can’t be that far in the future."
That too, I believe is a good point and a very possible scenario. Apple spent many years and billions of of it's dollars to develop a Mac OS X ecosystem, and after nuturing it from infancy I find it little disgusting that anyone would think, after contributing virtually nothing to that ecosystem, that they just can walk in and do whatever they please or like with somebody's else's property, in this case Apple's OS X.
So, what do I think; what's my 2 cents on the Open Mac and Mac clones? Well, it's always nice to have choices they say, but I guess that just depends on what you call choices? Having a choice as to whether to die from a stabbing, clubbing, head kicking, gun shot, etc., certainly would be choices, but I will take none of the following thank you.
Seriously, if Apple were ever to sanction legal cloning of Mac OS X, as Dell, IBM, Gateway and others wanted, well, I guess I would be ok with that, but I'm not too sure I would be all too comfortable with it either. The main reason is simple: even if Dell, HP, Lenovo, or whom ever, had an OS X license, I'm certain that none of them could ever design, build or market a Mac the way that Apple can and does. No other company, in my humble opinion, has what it takes to create and produce a computer as stylish, elegant, easy to use and as practical as Apple has done with it's iMac's, MacBooks' and the MacPro's. Yes, I know of the Gateway One and the Dell XPS One, but they are all inspired by the iMac, otherwise I sincerely doubt if those machines would have ever seen the light of day.
Because they build the whole widget, the OS and the hardware, Apple has been able to give it's users something that, up to now, no other computer OEM has ever been able to deliver - a system that is maximized to work together seamlessly and intuitively as the Mac. Psystar cannot claim such no matter what price they put on their machine.
As tempting as a very low cost Mac clone might sound, if it isn't legal, or if you have to hack and worry about a host of problems as you do with the OpenMac, then I say no thanks; I would much rather pay a little more for the real McCoy and the freedom from quilt and the assurance that my Mac really is a Mac, and that it would be guaranteed to work like one, not only now, but also in the future as well.
Psyster's unsupported clone is a bet, and a bet that I wouldn't want to take personally. The OpenMac from Psystar may be cheap - but the quality and peace of mind that you get from a genuine Apple Mac is priceless! Absolutely priceless!
And that's my 2 cents 4 this, Tuesday, April 15, 2008.
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