Another Mac Clone Manufacturer Surfaces

Apple Computer has nearly always kept its Mac computer platform an in-house-only proposition. Other than a few sanctioned (and unsanctioned) clones in the platform's early days and a two-year span in the mid-1990's, legitimate Apple computers have only come from Apple. That's not to say others haven't tried (for an interesting look at the history of Mac clones, see the Wikipedia entry here).

The OSx86 Project has been providing knowledge resources and has built a sizeable community for do-it-yourself hackintoshes. Recently, Doral, Florida-based PsyStar has been selling its Open Computer platform with the Mac OS preinstalled. But as ZDNet reports, Apple has finally mustered a legal response to PsyStar in the form of a lawsuit. It's perhaps too early to tell what PsyStar's defense will be, but apparently PsyStar's headquarters are for sale. Is it the first move in a soon-to-come fire sale or perhaps a means to try to raise some quick capital for a legal defense team? Time will tell.

You'd think with Apple now on the move to put the hurt on Mac clone maker PsyStar, that other potential Mac clone makers would sit it out on the sidelines, waiting to see how things play out. Wrong.

A brand new company, Open Tech Inc., has just emerged, which plans on selling Mac-compatible desktops. Who is Open Tech? Good question. Here's what MacNN had to say about the company:

"Some doubt has been cast on the validity of the company, as its website uses a .tk domain, belonging to the Pacific island of Tokelau. A traceroute has meanwhile proved inconclusive, though it suggests the company could be based in the Netherlands."

Assuming for the moment, that Open Tech is on the up-and-up (and if not, what a clever, attention-getting, hoax this will turn out to be!), the company's business model differs slightly from PsyStar in at least one key way:

"OS X Leopard Will not be pre-installed or included. You can purchase an Open Tech compatible install disk from a third-party vendor install it your self using our Do-it-yourself kit. All other Operating System will be preinstalled* VISTA & XP ARE 64-BIT"

 Credit: Open Tech
The company's intent is to make the systems user customizable so that they can run Windows XP, Windows Vista, Linux, Mac OS X, or other operating systems. Users would install the Mac OS themselves after they receive the system. Open Tech's Web Store currently shows two different system options: a $620 "Open Tech Computer 1.0" and a $1,200 "Open Tech XT" option. As to when systems will start shipping, the site only says, "Open Tech Computer 1.0 will launch very soon."

Of course, the big question here is: is Open Tech's approach legal? Here is what Apple's Mac OS license agreement has to say on the matter:

"This License allows you to install and use one copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer or to enable others to do so…

...Apple Boot ROM code and firmware is provided only for use on Apple-labeled hardware and you may not copy, modify or redistribute the Apple Boot ROM code or firmware, or any portions thereof."

It would seem that if the license agreement is legally enforceable then not only would any end-user who self-installs the Mac OS on an Open Tech computer be in violation of Apple's license agreement, but Open Tech would be as well by providing the means to install the OS on a non-Apple system with its "Do-it-yourself kit."

When PsyStar first surfaced, we incorrectly predicted that the PsyStar Mac clones would turn out to be a hoax. Being already once bitten, we're too shy to make the same prediction for Open Tech. What are your thoughts? Do you think Open Tech is a legitimate company, and if so, can it successfully sell Mac clones without the long arm of Apple's corporate lawyers raining on its parade?
Tags:  Mac, CES, Mac Clone, Clone, Surface, rf, One, AC, ACT