Psystar Defies Apple, Releases Mac Clone

Despite an Apple lawsuit, Psystar launched the $600 Open(3), which has a faster processor, more memory, and increased storage over the comparably priced Mac Mini.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

March 19, 2009

3 Min Read

Macintosh clone from Psystar (click for larger image)

Despite an Apple lawsuit, Psystar has expanded its line of Mac clones with a compact desktop.

Psystar introduced the Open(3) Wednesday on its Web site. The basic configuration includes the Mac OS X Leopard v10.5, an Intel 2.8-GHz Core 2 Duo E7400 processor, 2 GB of system memory, a 500-GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 8400GS graphics card.

The system starts at $600, which does not include a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. For that price, the only Mac offered by Apple is the Mini, which comes with a slower processor, less memory, and reduced storage.

Psystar's offerings, however, come with some serious risks. First of all, Apple's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco last year, asks the court to order Psystar to recall every clone it has sold. Apple is accusing the company of copyright violation by selling computers with its Mac operating system.

In addition, there's no guarantee software built for Apple computers will run on Psystar machines. While Psystar says it has found no incompatibility problems, it also is careful to protect itself and doesn't promise full support.

"Psystar cannot guarantee that any third-party software will work in Leopard," the company says on the support section of its Web site. "Psystar cannot be responsible for every piece of software our customers choose to run on their computers. Support for third-party applications may be done at the discretion of the Psystar support team." Psystar's unveiling of the Open(3) was reported on the tech site Electronista, where readers' feelings were mixed. While agreeing the price was enticing, they also acknowledged that support could be a problem.

"As one who had to support Mac clones in the '90s, I say never again," one reader said. "What a total pain! Having a single source for any support issues, which was pretty much zilch with real Macs versus the hassles with the clones, the cost of ownership is far better with a real Mac."

Apple licensed the Mac OS to other computer makers for a short time in the '90s, but later stopped the practice.

While Psystar continues to launch new products, Apple's lawsuit is chugging along. Psystar tried to derail the suit by claiming in court papers that Apple's control of the Mac market violated antitrust laws.

However, a judge rejected that claim, leading Psystar to modify its argument. The computer maker, which operates from a nondescript warehouse in a Miami industrial park, now claims Apple's Mac OS copyrights are invalid.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in November. Apple has said in court filings that it believes Psystar is backed by a silent third party that's presumably seeking to enter the Mac market.

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