Apple’s apparent antipathy towards the Mac prompts calls for macOS licensing

“Why should Apple go down the OS licensing route again? Why repeat what was almost a fatal mistake?” Gene Steinberg asks for The Tech Night Owl. “The latest suggestions are about Apple’s questionable moves in the Mac space these days. It appears that product refreshes have slowed, and what about the company’s commitment to pros?”

“Despite recent reassurances from Tim Cook, it’s clear that some people question his understanding of the needs of power users and creatives,” Steinberg writes. “Right now, hobbyists sometimes build what are known as Hacintoshes, which are regular or custom-made PCs onto which macOS is installed. It generally involves hacking the macOS installer to allow it to be set up on non-Apple hardware. There is an online community that has posted instructions on how to induce macOS to run on such a box, and the range of hardware that will provide the most trouble-free experience.”

“But what if Apple decided to license macOS to hardware companies to expand the market? If Apple isn’t interested in a professional workstation, why not let someone else build it? What about a bigger, more powerful notebook?” Steinberg writes. “Don’t forget that Apple is not selling an OS. It’s selling hardware, and anything that hurts those sales could impact the company big time. How many macOS licenses would they have to sell to even cover the loss of a single sale of Mac hardware?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:
In Q117, Macintosh accounted for 9.25% of Apple’s total revenue. Services (mainly from iOS device users) generated 9.15% of Apple’s revenue, nearly as much the Mac. (iPhone: 69.4%, iPad: 7.06%, Other Products: 5.14%.)

Clearly, the Mac is no longer Apple’s bread and butter. Beyond revenue figures, this is blatantly obvious simply by looking at the pitiful state of Apple’s desktop Mac products currently (desktops are a small slice of Apple’s Mac sales; the vast majority of Macs sold today are notebooks).

So, the risk to licensing macOS is nowhere near what it was during the last licensing fiasco. In fact there is little or no risk to Apple at all. If Apple simply instituted a partnership with a vendor or vendors and insured quality standards with a “Made for macOS” program, a third-party could build Mac towers, mini-towers, and whatever other form factors Apple approved. Apple could reserve notebooks or even all-in-ones for themselves and restrict third-party vendors to desktops (towers) only.

Such a move would go a long way to assuaging Mac professionals. Even better, of course, would be Apple properly and regularly updating their desktop Macs as any competent management would have been doing all along.


  1. Just because Apple made a mess when licensing the Mac OS in days gone by does not mean they would have to make a mistake the second time.
    1st, Apple could limit licensing to certain grades of hardware such as Workstations and ruggedized laptops (Panasonic Toughbook type) and other markets Apple chooses not to make hardware for. To be honest, I give not a shit about skinny, aluminum, sealed boxes without ports which is Jony’s passion. Let my buy a workstation with Mac OS and I will be happy, regardless of the logo on the box. Getting excited about the industrial design of a computer is about is as stupid as getting hyped about a Pickup Truck or a Vacuum Cleaner.
    2nd, Apple could allow home builds as l on gas they used specified, approved components. Instead of giving the OS away as with current Macs, third party Macs could be based upon software as a service subscription. This means third party boxes pay their way.

  2. Perhaps a ‘reference design’ licensing scheme would work? Apple could keep some control maybe?
    Hackintoshs’ are not for the newbie. Mission critical work killed my experiments. I did get a good price for it tho’, even when I explained some work arounds are needed daily just to get it working. Or maybe he knew something I didn’t?

  3. Tell the boneheads and beancounters that it is NOT ABOUT THE PROFIT!!!

    It’s about mindshare, and specifically the mindshare of opinion makers.

    Come on, you dimwits! Who cares if you make any money designing the Mac Pro Workstation?!! The groups you are going after and want to grab are some of the most influential people in society: medicine, mathematics, sciences, photography, videography, architecture, musicians, the arts of all kinds, etc. Design the best, hottest Mac Pro you can, refresh it every year, and don’t worry about the profit. Just break even. The payoff will come in other ways.

    Those opinion makers will talk about using your product for their science, art or music and assert that anyone is crazy not to be using what they are using, a Mac Pro!

    STOP WITH THE PROFIT ARGUMENT! It doesn’t make sense, especially in light of the money and effort Apple is happy to piss away on other projects, requiring hundreds of engineers. Put ten good engineers on the Mac Pro’s annual redesign and you will keep the lion share of your customers happy. It will cost you little and gain you a great deal.

    1. Yup, the profit argument is the refuge of MBAs and beancounters. If those are the people holding sway at Apple now, *especially* if it’s a driving force toward say abandoning Intel CPUs in favour of A-series ones, then it’s time to abandon Mac hardware for professional use altogether.

  4. We all agree that the beancounters at Apple have harmed the reputation of the Mac, selling old hardware at premium prices with no user flexibility. There is huge value in giving the user the option to update his machine as needed, Apple seems to have forgotten this.

    But what does licensing solve? If Apple doesn’t care enough about the Mac to design new hardware on a regular schedule, what gives you all the hope that they would do the critical work to monitor its licensees 24/7? And how would Apple protect its proprietary Mac technologies from IP theft? Letting the MacOS out would be the end of the platform since Windows or some other lightfingered thief would copy the OS.

    Even going to the last remaining US company isn’t a guaranteed success. Are all you willing to buy MacDells? I didn’t think so.

    It is a question of leadership. Cook is chasing quick and easy services subscription income. He has no clue how much money he’s leaving on the table by not delivering Mac improvements every year.

    With a very small design staff, he could have ~6 Mac product lines (3 laptops, 3 desktops). If every year you had one all-new model and one refreshed model, then no model would go more than 36 months without an upgrade. Software makers and users would have the confidence to know that the Mac is a strong platform that will stay near the cutting edge of tech. If Apple can’t do this, what makes you think that some undercapitalized 3rd party hardware maker would be able to pull it off?

  5. Here we go again ????
    They’ll have no standards again and will intro another chipset 3 months later and again. Previously, Apple got screwed than and will now. Besides who wants any type of tower case ?

  6. would it have been so awful to simply iterate the Cheese-Grater Pro? Some might have ridiculed them for lack of innovation but pros would have bought them up and been very happy to. And it would have cost them relative peanuts to iterate.

  7. I for one miss the days of new macs being regularly. I think Steve would kick tims ass to the curb for what he has made of Apple.
    Licensing I don’t know about that gives Microsoft such issues. Plus why would anyone buy a Mac at such a high price when all the clones would be so much cheaper?

    I love my macs but the cost of the portables is so high these days you got to be rich to afford one that is not that much better if not worse then what was out previously. The stupid 1 port MacBook is the worse thing ever.

    We should all start a campaign and email Tim daily lol. If all the Mac users bombarded him with emails he’d maybe see just how much we love our macs.

  8. There is a lot riding on Tim Cook’s promise of exciting things coming in the Mac space and his commitments to the Pro community.

    But I wonder whether the focus should shift to Linux. The Mac interface hasn’t changed much for years. How long would it take to “Macify” Linux?

  9. I think they come out with these stories about once a month just to get us riled up so we all spew our anger and ideas on to these comment boards so they can then take that material, rewrite it and repackage it for their next article one month from today. lol

    I’ve been writing pretty much the same thing every month or two on this board for the last two years.

    As for Intel vs ARM chips – I don’t really care, but from some of the articles about the new power of the ARM chip, it seems to me a group of engineers at Apple should be able to use a bunch of them in a new Apple server or Mac Pro. Maybe not the #1 Mac Pro, but certainly an “X” model just to dip their toes in the water.

  10. My guess is that all these “I could do it better than Apple” posters are independents, or working in small shops where supervision is very lax.

    If they were busy actually meeting deadlines, they wouldn’t be spending production time reading/posting MDN click bait.

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