Do you want a Mac clone for $399? Apple’s lowest priced Mac, the Mac mini, sells for $599 and isn’t expandable.
Psystar’s new Mac clone is an expandable mini tower that runs Mac OS X Leopard. Will Mac users buy a knockoff clone?
The buzz around the office Mac users the past few days has been about Psystar’s Mac clone and how quickly they’ll go out of business after getting sued by Apple’s lawyers. Or worse.
If you run Mac OS X Leopard on a $399 cheapo mini tower PC is it still a Mac? Psystar seems to think it is, but they’re careful not to use the term ‘Mac Clone’ anywhere on their web site.
They call it Open Computer: The Smart Alternative to an Apple.
Think about it. Isn’t a less expensive Mac an attractive idea? Especially if it’s expandable. Arguably, Apple has a hole in their current Mac product line.
There’s the Mac mini at the bottom. Add a screen and keyboard and mouse and it’s about the same price as the low end iMac.
At the high end are the powerful, highly expandable, fully customizable MacPro’s. Did I mention expensive? In between are the iMacs and notebooks. There’s no mini tower, no mid-range Mac with expandability. It’s likely that Apple doesn’t want us to have one as it might cannibalize sales from the more profitable iMac and MacPro line.
So, what’s a Mac lover to do? We can’t really build our own Macs from scratch, can we? Well, maybe. But it’s a hassle to hack OS X and more of a hassle to get it up and running and keep it that way.
Rob Griffiths of Macworld decided to build his own Frankenclone. The result was a $980 PC that also ran OS X. The result was a mini tower with modest expandability for about $2,500 less than a MacPro (alright, it’s not really Apple’s to apples, but you see the difference, right?).
These build-it-yourself and clone efforts also come with problems. OS X has to be hacked to work. Updates to OS X often destroy the hacks, requiring more hacks, and interim down time. Plus, not everything in OS X works right when running on a generic PC box.
So, why bother with a clone? Price? Expandability? The urge to build from scratch? I suspect that buying or building a Frankenclone is more of an exercise than a trend. It grabs headlines, it sends lots of web traffic to Psystar’s web site, it’s good water cooler talk, but such efforts won’t result in much more of a teeny, tiny cult of geeks who are proud of themselves.
For the rest of us, there’s still that hole in Apple’s Mac product line. Apple still doesn’t offer anything resembling cheap to Mac buyers. So, the question can be asked, ‘Would you buy a Mac clone?’ And then, ‘Why do you want a Mac clone?’ And finally, ‘What does Apple need to do to keep Mac users from buying clones?’