Would-be Mac clone maker Psystar raises many questions

“Though the blogging frenzy over whether would-be Mac clone maker Psystar is real has died down in the past few days, no one has determined the truth beyond the shadow of a doubt,” David Zeiler blogs for The Baltimore Sun.

“After a series of crazy developments last week, including an address that changed several times within a few days and a credit card payment company that abruptly terminated its relationship with Psystar, many in the Mac blogosphere declared the upstart company a hoax,” Zeiler writes.

“But over the weekend and into Monday, defenders of Psystar attributed its troubles to poor planning. They argued that the fledgling company had failed to anticipate the huge demand for cheap Mac clones they faced when news of Psystar hit the Web 10 days ago,” Zeiler writes. “Psystar posted reassuring messages on its Web site. A Friday item headlined ‘Store up and running, orders shipped’ promised that orders placed in the first week at Psystar’s online store would be shipped starting this week. On Tuesday, Psystar posted a message and photo trumpeting its new headquarters (independently verified by several news sites).”

“The ultimate proof would come when customers began to receive their orders; I have yet to read of a Psystar machine successfully delivered, but the first shipments might not arrive for a few days,” Zeiler writes.

“Even if Psystar is legit, what it is doing – selling PC boxes capable of running the Mac operating system without Apple’s blessing – raises many other questions,” Zeiler writes.

Full article here.

36 Comments

  1. My earlier theory still holds – Psystar is a not-very-competent front for someone else’s agenda.

    The fact that it keeps going despite raising the ire of the hacker who made the Mac emulation possible (http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/04/16/hacker_slams_mac_cloner/ for more on that), tells me that they’re not in it for the ideology.

    And the fact that they’re still going despite the very significant legal issues they face by pressing onward, tells me they have someone behind the scenes who has promised to help legally defend them when the time comes.

    I’m still hoping that someone somewhere has the investigative ability to figure out who’s really behind this.

  2. I’d say they’re bankrolled by Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer.

    The hope is Apple will release the legal team and put them out of Business. Which will get a big public media coverage with an anti-Apple spin to it. All in hopes of slowing or even stopping Apples march on the Windows marketshare.

    My guess would be that Apple is going to let it slide because the MacOS is becoming like unlocked iPhones, “a good problem to have” to quote Mr. Oppenhiemer. The negative press will be more damaging then letting Psystar sell crap boxes with MacOS X on them. They may send Psystar a C&D;letter about their illegal use of Apple Trademarks and their defamatory unproven claims, as they are not protected under the First Amendment Business must take care to be again to prove any claim they make in an advertisement and their web site to advertisement.

  3. Whether it’s good publicity for Apple or not, I don’t know. I suppose it does add to the buzz around their products.

    You’d have to be crazy to buy a Psystar, though:

    Systar told one MacFixit reader that their machines “do not support Leopard reinstallation”. Fun and games if you need to reinstall your OS, as can happen:

    http://www.macfixit.com/article.php?story=20080424103119539

    One of the big pluses of a Mac is that, unlike with a Windows machine — most consumer level Windows machines come with no installation media, because of Gates’s obsessions with ‘piracy” — you have the installation media and can pop it in and, if you select a minimum install, be done in 20 or 30 minutes. Same with Ubuntu.

    But with a Psystar Mac, you can’t do that. And at least with a Dell or an HP or whatever you’d not be breaking the EULA, and would get reasonable support if anything goes tits-up.

    Assuming Psystar does deliver these machines, you’re still playing Russian Roulette.

  4. @Afib
    I would agree, that market is out there, Apple knows that market is out there. My guess is that, Apple feels that that market is not big enough to justify a machine with lower margins that would probably cannibalize the iMac and Pro segments as well. If that is the reason, it sucks for those of us in the mid-range headless market segment. I wouldn’t touch the PsyStar with a ten inch pole, I am thinking about a hackintosh, but I’m not sure the trouble is worth my time. Linux remains my choice in this regard. (I don’t like the all in one concept of the iMac – just my preference)

  5. @ Wise Ancient One

    What does all the Buzz around Psystar do, It creates publicity for Apple. Psystar shot their own foot by not coming off as credible with all the address jumping. The fact is even if they mange to sell and ship some of these cheap ass systems in the big picture it’s just going to benefit Apple. Apple customer satisfaction rating are the best in the industry. If Psystar or any, would be copy cats, thinks that customer service to something you don’t need to spend money on, they’re wrong, like every other PC hardware company. I’ll use Dell as an example here, they are struggling with loosing money, Dell rather then getting rid of the highly paid managers and eliminating VPs and the like, they went with the soft targets the Technical Support and Customer Service staffs. Apple did the opposite when they were loosing money. Apple got rid of managers and hired Tech support and customer service staff.

    Psystar or any would be copy cats, only add to Apple’s mystic and if some people do get their cheap Psystar system (but the Psystar system comparable to a Mac in hardware spec.s isn’t that much cheaper then an Apple system) most will love the Mac OS X experience and will buy a real Mac In 6 months or less when they start having problems with the hardware and Psystar Tech Support and Customer Service are no where to be found.

    Has unlocked iPhones harmed Apple, No! AT&T;Maybe, Apple No. Everyone talks about Apple earning revenues from the carries, but Apple’s Financial statement doesn’t reflect it currently. So, until there is proof in the Financial statement or a disclosure by Apple the revenue sharing deals are just speculation. Apple losses nothing from the sale of these cheap systems as the people buying them will be people who would not have bought a Mac in the first place but their second system after they’re hooked will be a Mac.

  6. Uhh . . . there already is a Mac for this niche, it’s called the Mac Mini. If you want a Mac Pro, you’re going to have to pay for a Mac Pro, and believe me, it’s money well spent. I am still able to use every pro level machine I’ve bought from Apple over the past ten years.

    I can’t believe you came back, Afib. You must be hell at drive-thrus, man.

  7. Anyone who would throw money down the toilet with this supposed company deserves any and all of the pain he is going to receive.

    From Psystar itself:

    “We absolutely do not support customers attempting to install the Leopard operating system on our Open Computer themselves. This is due to a difficult process that we go through to get Leopard to function on our computers. We encourage you to purchase an open computer, and select the option to have Leopard Pre-installed.”

    Of course, the reader asked what options were available in the event of a major system failure requiring Leopard reinstallation, to which Psystar suggested a return shipment to the company.

    “Currently, (shipping the computer back to us) is the only option available. If the HDD dies, you can ship it to us for $50 plus shipping, so we can replace it for you.”

    There is never a dearth of people who will willingly and enthusiastically separate a fool from his money.

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