Apple killed the Mac clones back in 1997. Guess what? They’re back. Mac clones are available for sale from Psystar.
For now, you can buy a generic brand PC from Psystar which runs OS X Leopard. Does that make the generic PC a Mac?
Or, is it merely a Mac clone? Even the term “clone” doesn’t seem right because it’s not actually a true clone of any particular Mac model.
If you owned a Psystar Open Computer, starting at $399 with Linux, more if you want OS X Leopard installed, would you call it a “Mac” the same way you speak of your MacBook or iMac?
Is it possible that the term “Mac” could become generic in the way that Xerox is used for copying, Kleenix is used for tissues, or Jell-o is used for dessert?
Despite Apple’s lawsuit, Psystar has been selling the so-called Mac clones for many months. Apple has not yet been able to shut them down or prohibit them from selling their PCs with Mac OS X Leopard installed.
Apple charges something of a premium for each Mac model, though it is arguable that comparably equipped PCs cost roughly the same.
Many Mac users long for a mini tower Mac, smaller than the huge MacPro model, but with more power and expandability than an iMac.
Enter the clones. For example, the base model Psystar Open Computer retaiils for $554.99, nearly $45 less than a less equipped Mac mini. Neither has a keyboard, mouse of monitor.
The Psystar comes with what is called a 2.0GHz Intel Dual-Core Pentium Processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, a SuperDrive, and four USB ports, plus a powerful PCI-Express NVIDIA GeForce 7200GS video card with 256 megs of video RAM.
It can be argued that the base model Psystar Mac clone is more powerful and more expandable than the Mac mini or base model iMacs. But is it still a Mac?
It is not a Mac. Psystar goes out of their way to make sure their so-called clone is not called a Mac or eve a Mac clone. They simply promote the fact that the Open Computer comes with OS X Leopard installed.
An nonscientific survey of the few people I know who purchased a clone indicates that Open Computer owners call their machines Mac clones, although Apple does not make any Mac with similar specifications or design.
In other words, a clone does not a Mac make.
Still, despite their care in handling Psystar’s actions, Apple has a can of worms to close, toothpaste to put back into the tube. Pystar and their cloning operation could set a precedent.
No, Psystar themselves won’t dent Apple’s Mac sales. But if the clone maker gains legal precedent to place OS X on generic PC boxes, what is to stop Dell from doing the same thing?