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Applopoly?

Update2: looks like they might be legit after all.

This Gizmodo exclusive video appears to show a Psystar box running OS X Leopard. Regardless, as many comments on that video point out any hobbyist with the desire and a copy of Leopard can build their own so-called “hackintosh” system. This thanks to the OSX86 Project.

I still think if you’re going to go Mac you should buy a real box from Apple. Their software isn’t the major departure many think it is. Their hardware is pretty good though, and the software does have many advantages over a Windows Vista system.

Still, for the power user the need to customize and control the system is the number one requirement and neither Microsoft nor Apple can provide that. Linux, FreeBSD, and the like, do just that. Computer users have been led to believe “oh, this software is broken, I must suffer as a result.” That’s diametrically opposed to the whole point of computers in the first place.

Update: By all accounts the company “Psystar” looks to be a hoax/sham. I never linked to them, or suggested they were a reputable company, but as always be skeptical of any business that doesn’t have a reputation. That said, the post (unedited) remains below and Psystar works fine as a hypothetical company for the purposes of the discussion. I’ve struck their name for effect.

Via CNet: Defiant Psystar back selling Leopard computers

Debate the aesthetics all you want, but I’d argue that Windows and Linux are, for the purposes of personal computing, close substitutes to Mac OS X. They can run a personal computer. They can connect you to the Internet. They can run a basic suite of productivity applications.

You may prefer Mac OS X for a variety of reasons, but Apple’s requirement that you can only run Mac OS X on Apple hardware doesn’t prevent you from using a personal computer. If the only other substitutes were Palm OS phones or AIX servers, maybe you would have a beef.

What is Psystar selling? Hardware. They are technically selling you a copy of Leopard too, but you could just as easily buy that from Apple directly.

Their product is designed to fill a particular need: to provide you with a computer that will run a specific piece of software. That software is Apple’s OSX Leopard in this case.

Unless you are supposing that Linux and Windows are (a) Apple products and (b) capable of running OSX the argument is dry.

The claim of monopoly regards the fact that you can only legally run OSX on Apple-branded hardware.

Of course, I think Apple is stupid for licensing their software in that way. They can license not to support non-brand hardware, but trying to justify legally that someone cannot do with their own property as they choose (with obviously reasonable bounds) is absurd.

If I want to buy an iPhone, hack it to run over a landline, just so I can brag about having the only wired iPhone on earth, that’s my damn business. If Apple sells me the phone and I’m not violating any FCC mandate or other law, it’s mine to do as I will.

I think Psystar has the right to sell these computers. I’m not convinced they should be selling them with hacked-to-run-on-beige Leopard. It seems to be more reasonable for them to provide the hardware, the software, and the know-how (including, for example, a linux disc to facilitate the beigification). The direct sale amounts to distribution which has hairier legal entanglements.

Apple hates gnu/linux

New version of iTunes with DRM-free, but still no gnu/linux client.

It’s been over four years since the iTunes Music Store launched. They’ve racked up over two billion purchases as of January of this year. And they still haven’t released an iTunes client for gnu/linux. They’ve routinely blocked attempts for people that use free operating systems from accessing music they rightfully purchased using their iTunes client on a supported platform.

On the whole they’ve been spoiled jerks about the whole thing. And now they’ve bent to consumer pressure against their Digital Rights Management and are adding the option of a higher-priced DRM-free track selection. They’ve just released a new version of the iTunes client to support the change.

And yet they won’t give linux users access to their market. They are effectively blocking those users from participating in the online purchase of media. I understand it’s not a huge market, but it’s roughly an extra 5-10 million songs a year in all probability. There’s a lot of linux users and they would reasonably buy 5-10 tracks each. And it’s a growth market.

Dell has recently announced and followed through with offering new computers pre-installed with Ubuntu. Numerous other firms including graphics vendors feel the linux market is worth their time to provide support. Even Microsoft feels linux is important enough to spew idle, vitriolic threats about their patent holdings and strong arm their own “open” document standards in lieu of the OpenOffice.org standards.

But Apple continues to completely ignore linux. They are making a sucker’s bet and missing out on that revenue. They’ll probably cave in another year or two, or else they will risk that sector of the market finding an alternative. The inherent risk there is that the alternative would become adopted by existing iTMS users costing Apple billions of dollars in future revenues.

If I were the CEO of a company faced with the choice between ignoring a viable market sector or spending relatively little developer effort to support them and keep a secure hold on the market as a whole there is no reasonable choice but the latter. It is a disservice to their stockholders and to the music industry that they so readily deny access to people who would love to use their service.

Update: Slashdot is running a story about the new DRM-free offering from Apple. Apparently each DRM-free track gets tagged with the account’s registered full name and e-mail address.

This might be okay if it was publicly disclosed, but it wasn’t. The exact purpose behind the move isn’t clear. Speculation focuses on the possibility that this would be used to track the tracks within iTunes or otherwise.

Of course, anyone with minor technical savvy could easily modify the tags (possibly to reflect the fact they were purchased by Steve Jobs). Moreover tracks not originating from iTunes could easily be tagged.

So why tag them at all? It seems like a very weak attempt at tracking and an underhanded one at that. Most of all it’s just a dumb idea.