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Psystar and Dreams of a Mac 'for the Rest of Us'

- 2008.04.28

Bong! . . . :-) . . . Welcome to Macintosh!

The OpenMac - ahem, Open Computer - I'm sure it whetted more than a few people's appetites. Sadly though, its very existence seems to be questionable. Regardless of whether or not it turns out everything is or isn't a hoax, it doesn't mean the issue and the questions which were raised aren't viable.

With all the controversy surrounding Psystar, what was left in its wake has shed some light on Apple's inaction when it comes to the Mac for "the rest of us." The OpenMac/Open Computer concept is great for Mac users for two reasons: It presents us with more bang for the buck performance/price-wise, and it has the expandability to match.

Some time ago I wrote an article, The Gaping Hole in Apple's Lineup, in which I spoke about the lack of a reasonably priced mid-tower to fill the gap between the iMac and Mac Pro. Psystar's not only offer that, but it also offers the hope of a "true" entry level Mac, not crippled, yet complete.

So why am I going on about something that may not exist? Simply put, even if Psystar turns out to be a hoax, who's to say someone else couldn't and won't step up to the plate to bring a similar offering to the table? There's a bigger question Psystar has raised which will continue to be talked about long after the controversy surrounding them dies down - the unwillingness of Apple to allow OS X to run on the everyday PC.

I won't get into the pros and cons of Apple allowing OS X to be licensed, but I will say that the prospect is downright mouthwatering to a lot of people. Take a robust Unix core, cover it in an easy to use GUI, and you've got one hell of an OS, especially on the enterprise front. IBM and Dell especially would like to embrace the phenomenon of OS X, but Apple's (or should I say Steve Jobs') incessant need for control keeps it out of the reach for them as well as the everyday user who doesn't want to pay the premium price of Apple hardware just to get the OS X experience.

There's another reason why the thought of running OS X on non-Apple hardware is so appealing to many: Apple's quality control, or the recent lack thereof. Apple's quality has been slipping in recent years. Beautification of the hardware has came at the cost of durability. Many people would like to run OS X; they just don't want to put up with the lack of quality hardware that Apple provides.

In the end, whether Psystar is legit or not isn't what people will talk about. What will be talked about is how the era of Apple tying the OS their hardware may well be at its end.

If you have any thoughts or if you'd like to contribute your story of how you came to the Mac, shoot me an email at thomas (at) lowendmac (dot) com. LEM

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