A little company called Pystar just threw down the gauntlet by offering a $399 Apple Mac Mini clone they’re calling an OpenMac. Currently their website is overloaded with traffic, so don’t expect the links to work just yet.
For an additional $155 you get Apple OSX 10.5 Leopard installed on the system using a Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) emulator and the OSx86 project. Upgrading to an NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT will cost an additional $110, while Firewire ports costs $50. The base specs are formidable:
- 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
- 2GB of DDR2 667 memory
- Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics
- 20x DVD+/-R Drive
- 4 USB Ports
- 250GB 7200RPM Drive
Buying a similarly spec’d mac-mini will cost you at least $1000 for a computer with worse specifications and a slightly nicer looking chassis. That’s right, Apple is charging you 250% more than Pystar will. Where’s the catch? It’s the Apple Leopard 10.5 EULA, which reads “You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so.” The Fortune Blog highlights a similar EULA section, which reads “This License allows you to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time,” and concludes “that’s what’s wrong with this.”
The EULA, Does It Mean Anything?
No, it doesn’t. Based on the First sale doctrine, when you buy something, you essentially have the right to do whatever you want with it (a fact that bothers libertarians, corporations, but few else). That’s right, in the United States, you can buy a copy of OSX 10.5, install it on commodity x86 hardware, and ignore anything in the EULA to the contrary. Apple needs to learn that simply printing indecipherable text buried in a legal document doesn’t make it truth. If their hardware is truly superior, they should welcome the competition.
Note that I am not a lawyer, and this does not in any way provide legal advice
Apple Fans, They’re Hating!
Apple fans have a huge, negative response to this news. They just can’t stand someone creating a cheaper, faster clone of their favorite computer brand. Here are a few select samples, with citations:
- “This is illegal and will never happen. This is EXACTLY what Apple doesn’t want: it’s brand diluted with an ugly product full of bargain-bin components to appeal to the wellfare market. No thanks.” [src]
- “I smell a fly-by-night scam.” [src]
- “Many people may find paying 150% the price for a mac mini with less performance just as insulting” [src]
- “God damn that thing is UGLY. Building a box like that really destroys most of the joys of owning a mac” [src]
- “I can’t even imagine why someone would want all of the crap from the PC world swirling around inside of a well made fine piece of machinery. Good luck with that.” [src]
Essentially, this is the same reaction as Apple fans had to the $200 iPhone price cut: “You can’t drop the price and give Apple to the plebes!” Any Macintosh fans who are honestly upset by a little competition need to tone-down their absolute devotion to the Cult of Jobs, and see how this is good for everyone.
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