Anyone who remembers further into the past than 20 years should remember that the Mac has been cloned before. The Power computer was a clone for the Apples of the time, but the catch was that you had to provide your own ROM chips. How you got them was up to you – Power did not want to know. The computers were a little faster, a little cheaper, and worked well, but eventually the company faded away, and with it, the thoughts of cloning for quite some time.
When Apple decided to have ‘Intel inside’, it was only a matter of time before the really clever builders got the idea to put a close copy of the Apple hardware together and slap a copy of OS X on it. Most have seen the Hackintosh efforts, and noted varying degrees of success with which the machines work.
Now a company in the United States has started building their version of the Mac. The company is called Psystar, and already has their own version of the Mac up and ready for sale. The reports are that the cloning is complete, and the machines work perfectly. The clones are actually being advertised as better, because more choice is available in hardware, and is cheaper. What is not clear – is how the systems are physically packaged. No pictures are available on the website.
Clearly, Apple will be looking for any way to stop these people that they can. It isn’t clear if they will truly be able to, however, as the company sells the hardware, making it clear you will be buying OS X separately and not from them.
For those wanting to keep fully legal, the other option is to use the OSx86 operating system (also known as Darwin) and so not even the Operating System Police can do anything, as OSx86 is open source, and violates no Apple copyrights.
Apple has more problems than Psystar now. Think of how Asia, in general, takes an idea from these shores and runs with it, perfecting it, and making it much less expensively than can be done here. Soon there are millions of clones floating around, with Apple possibly getting none of the pie, as we all know how easily pirates can copy anything from the latest Britney Spears effort to the newest iteration of the ‘Saw’ drivel. Making copies of OS X is child’s play -literally - some factory will be training 8 year olds to run the copiers.
The only thing Apple has going for it is the hardware styling. Lots of people lust after the elegant stuff that runs OS X, so the market won’t dry up entirely, but lots of people work on the form-follows-function principle – they’ll jump on it.
Lots of lawyers will be having their checks signed by Steve Jobs for the next few months … It will be interesting to see if it does any good.
[tags] Apple, Hackintosh, Psystar, clone, OS X, litigation [/tags]