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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mac Clones Sold For $399!

For as little as $399, a Miami-based company called Psystar offers shoppers the OpenMac computer, which runs the OS X Leopard. The smaller, cheaper version of Apple’s Mac Pro, which has a $2000 retail price, is powered by a 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, has 2GB of DDR2 667 memory, Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics, 20x DVD+/-R Drive, 4 USB Ports and 250 GB 7200 RPM Drive, Macworld reported.

What is the problem with this? The answer is simple: Apple’s license for Leopard or any other version of Mac OS X only includes Apple hardware, which means Psystar breaks the Leopard end-user license agreement (EULA), which prohibits the installation of the software on third party hardware.

Psystar claims that Apple has created a monopoly, and the legal matter should be settled in court. In a phone interview with Information Week on Monday, a Psystar employee by the name of Robert said: “This may be up to the courts to decide.” He further accused Apple of overcharging the hardware that comes with the pre-installed software: “They’re charging an 80% markup on hardware.”

According to the Psystar website, which is currently offline, “with the EFI V8 emulator it is possible to install Leopard’s kernel straight from the DVD that you purchased at the Apple store barring the addition of a few drivers to ensure that everything boots and runs smoothly.”

The same website noted: “When comparing base configurations, the Mac Mini costs 150% of the price of the OpenMac while offering poorer performance, smaller storage space, and RAM.”

How will Jobs react to what he calls “clones” and does Psystar have a chance in court? Hard to say, but it’s even harder to imagine if Steve Jobs would reconsider his position from 1997, when Apple prohibited the installation of Leopard on non-Apple machines.

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