Analyst: ‘If Dell really wanted to sell Mac OS X hardware, it could sue Apple’

At least one analyst thinks that Apple is due for a day of reckoning with this strategy, especially now that it plans to move to x86 chips.

“Principal analyst with Insight 64, Nathan Brookwood, said it was only a matter of time before someone in the PC industry sues Apple for ‘tying’ its operating system to a specific type of hardware available only from Apple,” Tom Krazit reports for IDG News Service.

“Digidyne, then a division of Fairchild Camera and Instrument, successfully pursued a tying case against Data General in the 1980s in which Data General was rapped for licensing its Nova operating system only to purchasers of its hardware. ‘If you sell software that can run on hardware that you do make and hardware that you don’t make, you can not require people to buy your hardware to run your software, Brookwood said. If Dell really wanted to sell Mac OS X hardware, it could force the issue through the legal system, he said,” Krazit reports.

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Michael Dell say’s he’d be happy to sell Apple’s Mac OS X if Steve Jobs decides to license – June 16, 2005


  1. What I hate is that when I BUY a pack of Crayola brand crayons that not only does Crayola pick my colors, but I have to use the crayons they made! Damn It!

    If only some one else made crayons.

    Oh wait someone does.

    This argument is dumb. This is nothing like the Data General thing. There are other options to OS X and Apple hardware. Mainly windows, and I think that if you know enough, you could put Linux on Apple hardware.

  2. He’s missing all the facts period. Apple developes there own hardware and software. They only purchase the processor like Dell does from Intel.
    There is nothing Dell or anyone else can do about it. Stupid scenaro with no facts to back it up with.

  3. I don’t see Dell taking Apple to court without getting laughed at for years to come. There is plenty of precedent of companies tying software to a hardware platform.. Sun/Solaris, AIX/IBM and Compaq/HPUX. So I doubt a court would make Apple license OS X to Dell just because it runs on X86. It’s pure crap.

  4. Brookwood is not crazy, but my guess is Apple would win the suit. I am not an attorney but a quick look on the web seems to indicate that courts have ruled differently regarding whether a patent or simple desireability of a product tyed to hardware can constitute market power and violate anti-trust laws. It seems to me that in any game in which Microsoft plays, others are not going to be found to have too much market power. If Apple thinks it has a better chance to compete with MS by preventing OSX from running on Dell, then I think the courts would find the ability to do that would be pro-competetive, not anti-competitive.

  5. Seems the MDN post deleters are hard at work tonight, so I’ll make a paste.

    Apple is a hardware company, they make great hardware which Mac OS X is the fancy paint job. Their main profits come from hardware and the OS is the selling point along with other features.

    One Mac OS X copy sold for a cheap PC means one less Apple hardware sale. Since hardware sales are much more profitable, selling Mac OS X for PC’s is a losing situation. There is no guaranty that Apple will sell enough copies of Mac OS X worldwide to make up in profit for the lost hardware sales and continuing to profit by selling new OS versions, after all there’s only such much improvement one can do to a OS. At least with hardware people will pony up the big bucks to upgrade, it’s better not to lose that sale to some cheap PC box if they can get Mac OS X on it.

    Windows PC users, unlike most Mac users, hardly pay for software, a lot get it free via P2P networks and friends. Mac OS X would be quickly distributed worldwide and Apple would see little or no profit. Even Microsoft is suffering from illegal copies widely spread all over the world.

    Even if Apple releases a Mac OS X version for PC’s, Microsoft, in a knee jerk reaction, will fix Windows, jazz it up a little and dump it on the market at near cost. Apple, losing a hardware sale to every Mac OS X on PC sale and then stuck in a OS price war with moneybags Microsoft. Who would you think would win in the long run? It’s a suicide call by Apple to do this.

    Even if there was a Mac OS X for PC, and it was free to flood the market and get people to use it. There would be a tremendous learning curve for the rank and file types who are programmed on Windows. This is a HUGE cost for businesses and they would likely not incur that cost. Since business is the biggest buyer of PC’s they carry a lot of weight with their reluctance to switch, heck a lot are not even switching to XP.

    Information technology personnel – these people’s paychecks come from servicing and repairing defunct PC’s, since hardware rarely fails, it’s the Windows OS that gets a lot of attention and justifies their jobs. Windows does a great job of being screwed up enough to keep these people busy. And since these people will be asked if Mac OS X with it’s legendary stability and security would be a good option for businesses, what do you think their response would be?

    Most of the development software base is heavily entrenched in Windows on x86. Although this might not be much of a problem with the new MacTels coming, there are still difficulties and developers are very reluctant to change. They see in the terms of who is the biggest for maximizing profit, so Windows inertia will be difficult to overcome.

    Apple innovates in hardware as well as software and has uniform standards and implementations. This will be lost if Apple becomes just another Microsoft and gives up control of hardware, allowing twenty different hardware companies decide on twenty different ways of doing something. The reason Apple’s hardware and software always works is because of uniformity of implementation and focusing on ease of use.

  6. What if I have a PalmOS device like a Treo? Palm makes the hardware and the software. It cannot run Symbian OS or any version of Windows.

    What if Motorala or another phone manufacturer likes the Palm OS better than what they currently use? Should the sue Palm? They can try to license it like Sony has, but they cannot force Palm to let them use it if they do not want to.

    Why would this be any different than Apple?

    Stupid ANALysts!

  7. Don’t be so quick to dismiss this possibility. A lawsuit along just these lines may soon be filed in Canada.

    It seems Nikon has chosen to encrypt the white balance code in their RAW format for their newest digital cameras. This effectively forces owners of these cameras to use Nikon’s RAW processing software, rather than say iPhoto or Adobe Photoshop. Some folks are less than happy. This is tying their hardware to their software in an arbitrary, rather than technically necessary way.

    In order for Apple to keep a proprietary lock on their hardware/software, they will be required to do more than implement some digital rights management (i.e.: encryption). They will need to develop their own proprietary controllers and/or coprocessors, making it near impossible to run anything but OSX. If they simply use an off-the-shelf chipset and corresponding design from Intel, which could easily run Windows, than Apple’s refusal to license OSX will be problematic.

    There is plenty of precedent for this, both in Europe and in the US/Canada.

  8. I don’t agree. Apple primarily sells hardware; their software is merely to attract potential buyers to their hardware. I honestly can’t fathom other manufacturers suing for the “right” to run OS X on their computers, in the same way that I can’t see Burger King suing Macdonald’s for the right to sell Big Macs. If, however, Apple acted to prevent other operating systems from running on their hardware, then there is cause for complaint from the users. I buy a Mac, I should be able to run anything I want on it. Remember that Schiller said that while Apple would not support Windows on their hardware, they would do nothing to preclude it.

    All that being said, Dell is big, powerful, and according to Michael Dell, innovative. They can develop their own fucking OS.

  9. I buy a Mac, I should be able to run anything I want on it. Remember that Schiller said that while Apple would not support Windows on their hardware, they would do nothing to preclude it.

    Great! With that attitude you can do whatever the F you want with your computer. You own it. But don’t expect Apple to hold your hand (Tech Support–Warranty etc) if you crack open your Mac and start trying to mess around with it..

    There’s nothing wrong with you destroying your own property.. go ahead.. get your toolbox out.. get XP.. make it work..

    You can do anything you want..

    Apple isn’t going to support you while you do it, because you’re going way off course in user experience.. In other words, you’re not taking them up on their PROMISE, so why should they help you when you claim they OWE you..

    All that being said, Dell is big, powerful, and according to Michael Dell, innovative. They can develop their own fucking OS

    Well, I see your attitude, but.. let’s be clear.. Dell said nothing about a lawsuit.. it’s some moron on the Internet draggin gup obscure court cases to get hits to a website so he can make them around $0.0001 per visit. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to be FULL OF SHIT.

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