Mac clones on market?

Jim Dalrymple
15 April, 2008
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Miami, Florida-based Psystar has begun selling a new computer that it says will run Mac OS X Leopard — in other words, a Mac clone. The company is touting the computer as the “Open Computer: The Smart Alternative to an Apple.” “Why spend $1999 to get the least expensive Apple computer with a decent video card when you can pay less than a fourth of that for an equivalent sleek and small form-factor desktop with the same hardware,” says a note on the company web site.

The basic $US399 configuration for the Open Computer (translating to roughly $A470 with GST) is a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 Processor; 2GB of DDR2 667 memory; Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics; 20x DVD+/-R SATA drive that is Lightscribe-capable; and 4 rear USB Ports. Apple’s cheapest desktop computer is the Mac mini, which comes with a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 1GB memory; and an 80GB hard drive. That configuration costs $US599 (or $A849 here). Note, however, that the $US399 configuration does not actually include a copy of Leopard — that will add $US155 to the purchase if you want Psystar to install it.

It’s unclear whether or not the company ships to Australia. When AMW attempted to order one to find out, the online store did not offer a shipping method, and refused to continue with the order until we selected a shipping method.

Psystar isn’t the first company to make a Mac clone. Apple allowed a limited number of computer-makers to install the Mac OS on its hardware in the mid-1990s, but upon his return, Steve Jobs put an end to the clone computers.

There may be another problem for Psystar on the horizon. Apple’s end user license agreement states that “You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so.” It seems pretty clear that the new computers are in violation of this agreement. On Psystar’s web site, it claims "The idea of the Open Computers is not to pirate the Apple operating system but to allow the Apple operating system to be run on hardware of the user’s choosing" — I wonder how well that argument will hold up in court.

Apple representatives were not immediately available to comment.

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