Mac clones? Really? I feel like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.
On Monday, website Gizmodo released video of a working, though unauthorized, Mac OS X clone sold by a Florida company called Psystar. Call it a Mac in PC clothing.
I've been here before. Back in my PR days, a Taiwanese manufacturer called UMAX Computer was a client. Mac clones were part of its business. Until, that is, Steve Jobs returned as CEO of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and canceled the licenses of those who were selling the OS in their own machines.
Would a similar problem persist today? I think so. Apple's second-quarter results were driven largely by huge gains in hardware revenue. Mac market share, meanwhile, topped 6% in North America for the first time in years.
What's more, the iEmpire just paid $278 million for chip designer P.A. Semi and its PWRficient processor. Whether or not this signals the end of Apple's relationship with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) -- if, that is, the Feds agree to allow a deal -- it's clear that Jobs is as interested as ever in using hardware to differentiate iProducts from Brand X.
Psystar, if it succeeds at selling $399 Mac clones, could threaten all of that. Or, at the very least, the very profitable and recently refreshed iMac line.
A cheap Mac? Take me away, Psystar, I don't mind. But you better promise me that Apple's profits will be back in time. Steve is watching, after all.
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