December 21st, 2009

So, Apple has killed Psystar. isn’t that for the second or third time? I forget. But whatever the case, Apple has again successfully prevented third-party Mac clone makers from getting a toehold.

In some ways, you could see this as bad: it means that Apple has a monopoly over its domain, that there is no competition to drive down prices, no alternate choices which could lead to great Apple software running on much cheaper machines.

But the more you look at it, the more you have to admit that Apple is right to do what it does. The mistake comes from seeing computers and OS makers as being separate, which is the Microsoft model, also followed by other makers of OS software. And maybe if Apple had the 90~95% worldwide market share that Microsoft has, it would be more of a monopolistic concern.

However, that’s not the case. Apple never intended to sell software and hardware separately; it is designed to be an integrated system. Think about other makers who do similar things: what if I made a new DVR, but took the OS software from Sony’s DVRs to make it run? Sony would shut me down and nobody would think Sony was out of line. Hardware makers do that kind of thing all the time: create closed, integrated hardware and software systems. In fact, everything that’s not a PC sold as a PC is designed exactly that way, from cell phones to cars: the manufacturer creates the operating system to run with the hardware, and they see both as something they own. If a user wants to tweak the system after they buy it, then fine–but if a for-profit company wants to tweak it and then sell it for a profit, potentially robbing sales from the original designer by using their designs and concepts–that’s different. As far as I know, Apple has never tried to go after any private users, even for things like software piracy–Apple has far fewer safeguards and hurdles against such things relative to Microsoft.

So while the freedom-to-tinker part of me wants to see clone makers succeed, the I-made-it-I-control-it part of me sees how it’s the right of the creator to prevent someone else from making money selling hardware based on Apple’s work. (I don’t think that the “I own Apple stock” part of me is really influencing what I think here, but that’s harder to say.)

Categories: Computers and the Internet, Mac News Tags: by
  1. Leszek Cyfer
    December 21st, 2009 at 19:53 | #1

    I wonder what would they do in case of non profit “open source” platform easy to duplicate on your own, using computer parts available on market to very easily build your own cheap but powerful Mac-compatible machine…

  2. Luis
    December 23rd, 2009 at 03:58 | #2

    Actually, that exists–it’s called “Hackintosh,” and is a version of the Mac OS that can be installed on virtually any machine. Apple has not made any mention of it publicly that I know of.

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