Psystar vows to fight Apple’s EULA in Court – they’re kidding, right?

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You know sometimes its nice to wake up to a good chuckle, and Psystar definitely provided that this morning for me. The company who only yesterday decided to offer a $399 system they’re calling ‘OpenMac’ that comes with Leopard pre-installed (which is a violation of Apple’s EULA), has decided to ride the wave of publicity and take things on step further.

They’re going to take Apple to court.

On what grounds?

Why, anti-trust violations of course.

After clarifying that the company would continue to sell the ‘OpenMac’ Psystar representative “Robert” told InformationWeek that they planned to take Apple to court because they believe Apple’s terms violate U.S. monopoly laws. Stating, “What if Microsoft said you could only install Windows on Dell computers?”

My guess is if that happened a company like Google would come in with a new OS and clean house…but that’s just me. I seriously doubt this line of thinking is going to win Psystar any cout rulings…primarily because such a ruling would change computers as we know it. I mean, seriously, if a court ruled in favor of Psystar then Xbox OS software would have to be made available to install on any machine, same for PS3 OS software, and any company that ever produced an operating system ever again would then have to make that operating system available for every imaginable platform or risk facing a lawsuit.

However, I am not a lawyer, and people much more educated than myself would be more qualified to discuss that at length, so I’ll let them have at it on other blogs.

What I CAN comment on is the next thing that came out of “Robert’s” mouth. After his previous words of wisdom he claimed that Apple “grossly overcharges” for the hardware on which its operating systems come pre installed. Event going so far as to claim that Apple charges “an 80% mark-up on hardware”.

Now even the dimmest bulb in the room knows that’s absolutely ridiculous, and it makes me seriously think that Psystar consists of a handful of stoners in their mother’s basement with delusions of grandeur.

If Apple charges 80% mark-up…so does everyone else. Take a look at the Dell XPS line of notebooks. These are the notebooks from Dell that most closely match the specs of a Macbook – and guess what? The cost is almost identical.

The Macbook is $100 dollars more than the base XPS, and it comes with 802.11n and a 2.1 Ghz processor vs. Dell’s 1.8 Ghz offering with 802.11g.

The specs on the machines aren’t exact, but they are very close – and its a good example of how Macs aren’t actually “over priced”. The difference between a Mac and a Dell PC is that Dell sells under powered machines very cheaply. Apple doesn’t sell cheap machines. That’s it. Nothing more.

This goof ball continues on with statements like “What if Honda said that, after you buy their car, you could only drive it on the roads they said you could?”

Obvious answer – Honda would go out of business…because that’s stupid.

Let’s not even get into the fact that calling their machine ‘OpenMac’ is a bonehead move. Even if there was some way they could even stand up to a court hearing on their claims, Apple can still sue their pants off based solely on the trademark violation of the computer’s name.

Psystar, I look forward to reporting about your ultimate court loss, and your eventual bankrupcy. Good luck with that.

Comments

  1. there is a difference between “is available for” and “may be installed on”.

    nobody would try to run the xbox os on a pc, because it simply wouldn’t work (at least not without heavy, heavy modding of the pc, making it much easier to just go and buy an xbox straight away). mac os x, on the other hand, does in fact run quite smoothly (not perfectly, but smooth enough for the average joe) on run-off-the-mill intel pcs with only minor hacks neccessary. apple simply doesn’t allow it to be installed on such machines, and this is what psystar is claiming to go to court against.

    still, of course they will go down in flames, and be it only because apple is able to pay the better lawyers. i don’t think that psystar will be selling this open machine of theirs at all or for very long. i think they just want all the publicity they can get, in order to promote their other products. seeing as they have nothing to lose (except court expenses, of course) – as long as they don’t sell anything, apple can’t claim any damages or sue them for copyright infringements or whatnot.

    what psystar can do and apple will not be able to keep them from is to sell a pc which people know is compatible with mac os x. maybe they can’t even be kept from buying leopard licenses from apple and re-selling them bundled with said pcs. then all that is left for the user to do is to get his hands on a how-to instructing him on hacking his wannabe-mac and installing leopard. i don’t see how apple has any means to stop a company from selling mac os x compatible machines – as practically every newer intel based pc is one.

  2. @Phil

    No one is saying that Psystar can’t sell a computer that someone could install OSX on. What Psystar is doing is entirely different. They are installing the OS on the machine themselves, openly violating the EULA, and are threatening to take Apple to court on grounds that just aren’t going to hold water.

    That’s not a smart thing to do.

    Also, whether people would want to install the Xbox OS or not is completely irrelevant to the argument. If Psystar successfully sued Apple it would set a precedent that would force companies to sell their OS to their hardware machines…which would then allow companies to produce cheap Xbox knock-offs that ran the OS.

    An individual might not want to install the Xbox OS, but companies most certainly would, and that’s exactly what would happen if this ever ended in Psystar’s favor.

  3. I think you are exaggerating ;-)

    Let’s look at your examples:
    - What if Honda said if you want to drive Honda cars, you would also have to buy “Honda Tires”, and if you put “Honda Tires” on any other car, they would sue you ;-)

    - What if Apple said you can only use their excellent 30″ LCD monitors with Apple hardware. And, if you connect it to a DELL, they would sue you ;-)

    Nobody says all OS developers should make their software run on ALL platforms (i.e. your exaggeration). I think the point here is that Apple (or any other OS manufacturer) should not be able to restrict you from installing the software on other non-supported hardware. They could NOT support such adventures. But if you’ve PAID for all these things, you should be able to do whatever you want with them.

    For most, maybe more than 99% of people, they would buy the Apple brand of computers for their reliability and workmanship. I did, and I’m a very happy customer. (witched after 27 years of PC/Microsoft use)

  4. @ShadZee

    I don’t think it’s an exaggeration at all. What you gave as examples (that aren’t my examples at all) are exaggerations. ;)

    However, the way it works in court is that if Apple was sued for not allowing their OS to be installed on a machine they didn’t manufacture, that would set a precedent.

    That precedent would then open up the field for lawyers to file suit for the same situation with other companies. The Xbox is a computer. It’s a computer built for playing video games and multimedia, but it is a computer.

    If Apple cannot restrict what systems their operating system is installed on then other companies will not be allowed to do it either.

    A monitor or a set of tires are not the same thing. An operating system is the same thing as an operating system.

    Another example would be that Tivo would be in an open position to be sued since they don’t allow you to install their operating system on your own homebrew machine either.

    The only way I can see where this wouldn’t be the case is if it was decided by the court that Apple was different from these companies because they sell a retail version of just the OS…and if that happened, you can bet that Apple would simply stop selling a retail version of Leopard, and you’d have to purchase it as a direct update off the machine itself.

    and if you don’t think Steve Jobs would do that…I think you need to do some research on Steve Jobs. ;)

  5. I wrote a quote on my blog that pretty much sums up my feelings on this:

    What Apple is doing would be like a company who makes sliced pepperoni making it illegal to use the pepperoni on anything other than their brand of pizza dough, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese. They are too over controlling of their products – thus disallowing competition. That is a very monopolistic practice.

    Apple’s history is very much against them. Microsoft has always been the one getting beat up while Apple quietly watched from the sidelines and did many similar practices. Now it is Apple’s turn to explain themselves – which is long overdue IMO. Apple has created their own market, and now other companies want to compete in it – but since Apple does not want competitors in their little market they will fight them off using any tactics they can. Last I checked that is called being a monopoly.

    Psystar isn’t completely innocent , however. The copy of OS X they resale along-side the computers is probably modified. The modification most likely involved a bit of reverse engineering and unauthorized code modification – two things that are against the copyright laws. While Apple can’t sue them for merely reselling OS X – which is allowed by the copyright laws – they can go after Psystar for reselling an illegally modified copy of it (assuming they did modify it).

  6. Anyway, I’d like to know why anyone thinks Apple should be allowed to do this. I have yet to hear a single person give a good reason other than “well… it’s Apple”.

    “Another example would be that Tivo would be in an open position to be sued since they don’t allow you to install their operating system on your own homebrew machine either.”

    And why should you be allowed to? If the RIAA limits your fair use rights they are evil, but if a company that ties software to hardware together does so they are still an innocent entity? BS. If you have a license to a piece of software you should be allowed to do whatever you want to do with it as long as it is legal (for example, no code modification or reverse engineering).

  7. Sorry – typo. “And why should you be allowed to?” should be “And why shouldn’t you be allowed to?”

  8. @Jeremy Steele

    I’m not arguing that Apple should or shouldn’t be allowed to do this. I just don’t believe that the US court system will go against the wishes of all these very large, and very wealthy companies.

    That’s all.

  9. Although Psystar will probably not make much money from this offer
    (who wants a Mac that potentially gets bricked after the next SW update), I am curious how this will turn out in court.
    Meanwhile they changed the name to OpenComputer, to not infringe on the Mac trademark. And: they offer the Leopard installation for free, pretending they have no commercial interest in doing so. Maybe that will make some difference in court (you never know what tricks lawyers will pull out of their a….).

    Regarding the 80% premium, that may be different for notebooks, but
    for users who want a headless Mac its is probably not so far away from the truth. I dont know about the Mac Pro (I simply dont need 8-core horse power), but for the Mac mini I just did a quick comparison to a Dell machine (actually the Dell has better hardware), and it turned out that the Mini is 50% overpriced, compared to the Dell. At least here in Germany.

    Unfortunately, the Dell has a big disadvantage: it comes with Vista,
    so I think some extra charge for the Mini is acceptable …

  10. I agree with you on that point, Michael. The US court system is quite… how shall I put it? big-business-friendly. However, give it time and Apple will do something that gets enough of the federal governments attention and will cause them to chase after Apple (like with Microsoft), and/or foreign courts will start beating up Apple (think EU and Microsoft). Psystar would be better off trying to convince the feds to support them.

    Either way I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple make massive changes to their business model in the coming years, especially after Steve and a few other execs leave – because they cannot continue with the “our way or highway” attitude with the direction the world is going.

    These things take time, but fortunately the end result is usually consumer-friendly.

  11. @obi

    Also keep in that the Mac Mini is not the same size as the Dell machine you’re talking about, and as a result may be forced to use more expensive parts to get everything in that tiny, compact package.

    @Jeremy Steele

    I’m not convinced yet that Apple has to make any big changes to their business model, mainly because they’re doing better than ever. I don’t see the OS ever becoming something like Windows that works on all machines, and I seriously doubt that we’ll ever see it on a machine manufactured by another company.

    Just my opinion, and I could be wrong, but I think if anything like that is going to happen it will be after Steve Jobs has left this mortal coil.

  12. Michael wrote:
    “The only way I can see where this wouldn’t be the case is if it was decided by the court that Apple was different from these companies because they sell a retail version of just the OS…and if that happened, you can bet that Apple would simply stop selling a retail version of Leopard, and you’d have to purchase it as a direct update off the machine itself.”

    That’s exactly what I mean by the Honda Tires example. If you buy the OS and the Hardware (in this case the OpenPC) you should be able to put it together (yourself) without the fear of getting sued by Apple. Apple ALSO, should indeed be able to Brick your pc with their next update, or stop selling the OS in retail.

    But, I think the cat is out of the bag. Apple, can (and will) sue these manufacturers. But for every one they stop another 10 will pop up with better so called “Terms of Use” posted on their sites to keep the lawyers away. Apple will NOT be able to hold off the hackers who are now camped outside their HQ to hack away at their OS and their iPhone/Touch empire ;-)

    We will see “OPEN” OSX by Apple sooner than you think.

  13. @ShadZee

    Now I think it’s you that’s over reacting. ;)

    I do not think this is the start of some kind of revolution against Apple.

  14. I for one, like that Hackintosh idea, heck i run 2, and they run better than my friends real macbooks and macbook pros. less problem anyways, they have to send their macs back to repair, 2x for the macbook and 1 for the mbp already. while mine are much cheaper, they offer much more flexibility than a iMac or even a MacPro. One of the bigger things for me is overclocking, with a hack u can just go into the BIOS and bam overclock, u can use just about ANY video card etc. all u need to do is, disable auto updates, which even on my real macs, i never have on, i like doing things manually. while i do see the legallity of it all, i think this Psystar will just open the can of worms even more to show people that its REALLY easy to install osx on off the shelf pc parts. just like downloading music is illegal, people do it everyday and dont even think about it. its TOO easy, that is why. i think apple will eventually sell their OS so you can install on any pc hardware. they are getting bigger and bigger every year and people are gonna go after them like they did with microsoft. eventually they will cave. but like michael said, it will happen when Steve is gone.

  15. “I do not think this is the start of some kind of revolution against Apple.”

    So no march on Cupertino? Darn…. *puts away uniform*

  16. @drho2004
    I think most users are simply not interested
    in constantly tweaking their machines just
    to have them running OSX. Therefore I guess
    even if Psystar manages to survive the
    upcoming legal wars, they will not make a big
    business with their offer. Hackintosh users
    will probably continue to build their own
    machines from scratch, and the average
    users will stick with the original Apple products.

    Anyway, the whole issue could push Apple
    to broaden their hardware palette, which
    would be a good thing.

  17. jadedcritic says:

    I’m not inclined to think it would make much difference if they did win. Consider, Apple’s been accused of trust violations before, they’ve beaten every accusation I’ve every one I’ve ever read about, they’ll probably beat this one. I guess what I’m thinking here, is I didn’t “switch” because I wanted some cheap french unsupported import. I’m surely not going to rush out and buy an OpenMac. Seems like Psystar is going for the naive/ill-informed/gullible market here. Maybe it’ll work out, but I doubt it. Trust cases are hard to win, if the justice department can’t do it, I don’t see how some little computer manufacturer can expect to.

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