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Mac Clone Maker Psystar Files For Bankruptcy 366

StikyPad was one of several readers letting us know that Psystar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. We've discussed the Mac clone maker's battles with Apple extensively. The company apparently has over $250,000US in debt, and states that it cannot turn a profit in the current economy. "The Chapter 11 filing will temporarily suspend Apple's copyright infringement suit against Psystar, which is currently before the US District Court of Northern California. But once the bankruptcy protection is sorted out, the copyright case will resume." And PC Mag is reporting that, on the other side of the Atlantic, two new clone companies are just getting started. Like PsyStar, FreedomPC and RussianMac promise to deliver PCs with OS X preloaded.
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Mac Clone Maker Psystar Files For Bankruptcy

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  • Microsoft: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Akido37 ( 1473009 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:41PM (#28100479)
    It's funny - a company like Microsoft has built its entire fortune on the idea of licensing software rather than selling it.

    You'd expect them to be supporting Apple in this lawsuit to enforce their EULA... yet they're not...

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:46PM (#28100569) Homepage

    That is the biggest question. They couldn't undercut Apple in the market segment which could mean that Apple's are well priced for what they have to offer? Too little people interested in non-Apple Mac products which could mean that they didn't offer the same service as Apple does or their products were of lower quality? Or did their management just drink all profits that should've been used to expand the company and pay for in-house lawyers?

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:47PM (#28100589) Homepage

    That must be a typo - could they mean $ 250 million USD ? Most companies would not choke on $ 250,000 worth of debt.

    Unless they wanted to choke... as stated earlier, an important side-effect of bankruptcy is the disruption of all outstanding litigation... Maybe Apple was getting too close to finding the money behind PsyStar?

  • by harryandthehenderson ( 1559721 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:50PM (#28100615)

    Or did their management just drink all profits that should've been used to expand the company and pay for in-house lawyers?

    Don't you actually have to sell something to make a profit? Has anyone actual obtained proof that Psystar actually shipped any products?

  • by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:50PM (#28100621) Journal

    actually, the bankruptcy filing will releav exactly who is funding them. In the pending court case, the investors could be protected, but in SEC investigations, and in bank records that are required to be made public durring a bankruptcy, this has to come to light.

  • by Deus777 ( 535407 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:51PM (#28100641)
    The article mentions the question of who provided funding for Psystar and that the answers should come out in the bankruptcy. It will be interesting to see if the Microsoft, etc. conspiracy rumors around Psystar are validated.

    It occurs to me that Apple is facing a problem with these clone makers that is similar to the problem the content industries are facing with piracy. Some fraction (obviously not all) of people who pirate content do it because they want the content but can't get it the way that they want (on the device of their choice, for example). People who buy from the Apple clone makers have a similar motivation. They want OS X, but Apple won't provide it on the type of computer that they want.

    I can't help but wonder if the solution for Apple and the content industries is similar. Give people willing to pay for your product what they want. I'm not suggesting that Apple should support OS X on random PCs, nor that they should sanction the clone manufacturers, but that they should expand their line of hardware to offer more choices to consumers instead of trying to force people into the few options Apple currently provides. That might take some support away from the clone makers and make Apple more money as well. Certainly they're not going to make much money suing these companies into the ground.
  • Mac clone companies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:59PM (#28100759) Journal

    Mac clone companies will never make it. Macs are over priced, but people pay that premium because they want an Apple product. Apple and it's products are in line with the Fashion industry. They are stylish to have.

    To have a clone Mac is like someone buying a watch (or hand bag) off the street vendors in New York, except you don't even get the Mac logo that tells everyone how cool you are because you own a Mac. :D

  • by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:06PM (#28100849) Journal

    Apple has promised there will not be chip level lockdowns in OS X, or any future apple OS. their OS runs on commodoty hardware, they only license it to run on Apple Brnaded systems (currently). It;s been rumored for years that Apple is partnering with dozens of vendors and plans to release an OS X approved spec and sell OS X on shelves opposite Windows (likely on a price tier competitive to Home Premium, but including iLife).

    Apple has not released OS X for open systems for 1 primary reason: they don;t want to support your junk kit, and they don;t want to get the blame for OS X having stability issues. If manufacturers are allowed to be held to the same wishy washy standards as micsoft, then not only would OS X be seen to be just as unstable, but it would likely be sold on many systems that don't really meet the minimum specs of iLife, and would provide a lack-luster performance.

    The hardware market has been shrinking (unified drivers, fewer verndors, better driver certification, open standards). In a couple of years, especially once dedicated GPUs become the norm across all systems, and when comodoty $500 PCs have significant specs, I expect to see Apple come pre-configured, OEM, on select systems, but by that point, Apple hardware should also be slightly more in line price-wise (on several systems, Apple is actually currently cheaper than the competition, especially in the pro and server lines, but on the low end there's still a premium for the design and software).

  • by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:08PM (#28100877)
    I think the problem was that to the average consumer they were pretty obscure, had no retail presense, or brand-recognition, or brand-loyalty. For the informed, I'm sure a lot were fearful that if Apple won, the company would fold and support would disappear or an Apple update would cause system instability or worse. In addition, there are true apple "fans" that appreciate the products/service/support/buying experience. For the well informed, it isn't "overly" hard to build a Hackintosh if you're capable of following directions and have some initative, and can be done on hardware many have lying around. I think the first group and loyalists are by-and-large the vast majority... except maybe on /.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:19PM (#28101011)

    ^-- Goatse link
    Cpt. Obvious

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:27PM (#28101133)

    Or Apple could take advantage of the TPM chip that's been present in Macs since almost immediately after they moved to the x86 platform.

  • by rjhubs ( 929158 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:36PM (#28101213)
    While I agree with the mods that the parent could definitely use some tact and probably deserves the moderation. The point raised is valid. The mystery money behind Psystar will be revealed in the bankruptcy hearings as anyone that has given Psystar money would be considered a creditor. As a creditor you have a vested interest in reclaiming as you can of Psystars remaining assets in court. Their identity can only remain secret if they decide not to reclaim any of their losses and not participate in the bankruptcy hearings. Also, GPs point is invalidated in the summary, whicg indicated Apple's lawsuit will resume one bankruptcy is over. So anything that was going to be revealed from that can still be revealed.
  • by idiot900 ( 166952 ) * on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:44PM (#28101305)

    You can build a Hackintosh yourself. Bootloaders and such are out there - you can run Leopard on a regular PC, as long as you are careful to only use supported components. Amazingly enough, Apple has been remarkably nonchalant about this. So why do they have such a big problem with Psystar?

    Running OSX on a white-box PC takes technical know-how and a willingness to put up with some level of brokenness. This is the polar opposite of 99.9% of Mac buyers, who want their computer to just work - that's why they bought a Mac in the first place. So Hackintoshes do not meaningfully decrease Mac sales - indeed, they might even (very) slightly increase Mac sales because they get people invested in the Mac ecosystem. (Once you've wrangled with getting OSX to run on your white-box PC, only to have to do it again for the next point update, the convenience of a real Mac starts looking like a pretty darn good upgrade.)

    The problem with Psystar is that they were promising to make their white-box Mac clones easy to maintain, thus destroying the selling point of a real Mac.

  • I'm an Apple investor too, and I'm not so appalled.

    The differences between, say, the iMac and Mac Pro:

    1. > 4GB of RAM
    2. > 2 CPU cores, and they're faster
    3. PCIe slots
    4. 4 internal hard drives
    5. Up to 2 internal optical drives

    Now, I'm sure this is going to be controversial, but I'll pose the question anyway:

    What would you really want to use those PCIe slots for that you couldn't find reasonably equivalent functionality via USB or Firewire? Bonus points if there are mac drivers available.

    If the answer includes Gigabit Ethernet (note that we'd be talking about a *second* GigE port, since the iMac comes with one), Fiber Channel or RAID, then doesn't that imply that you'd be better served by either the Mac Pro or an XServe anyway?

    What else is on the list?

    SCSI? Really?

    Fusion powered 3d graphics card? Are gamers really clambering to run awesome 3D games under OS X?

    TV tuners and video capture? There are plenty of those for USB, FW or Ethernet.

    What I'm saying is that the "mid tower" you describe *likely* doesn't differ significantly from the iMac except for not having a built-in display, those PCIe slots and extra optical and internal drive bays - and in the case of the optical and/or hard drive bays, FW800 is an alternative. And I am honestly struggling to think of why those PCIe slots are missed.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wintermute000 ( 928348 ) <(bender) (at) (> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:35PM (#28101913)

    You've never run a good hackintosh before have you?

    With a fixed hardware base to test any updates on before distributing etc. its a pretty slick experience, in fact slicker than some hit and giggle linux distros. As long as you wait for someone to work out how to do the next major update you're fine.

    Dell mini 9, fully hackintoshed, everything working including BT, two finger scroll, sleep and built in WWAN (3G).

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:10PM (#28102315)

    You can build a Hackintosh yourself. Bootloaders and such are out there - you can run Leopard on a regular PC, as long as you are careful to only use supported components. Amazingly enough, Apple has been remarkably nonchalant about this. So why do they have such a big problem with Psystar?

    Apple jealously guards their brand. They work hard in support and towards reliability and packaging such that they are consistently rated top in the industry by their customers. OS X is Apple's crown jewels and is strongly associated with Apple's brand.

    So some computer geek hacks a machine to run OS X, even in violation of the license. Why would Apple care? A geek knows it is going to have issues that aren't Apple's fault and taking individuals to court just gives them negative publicity for an issue that isn't costing them significant dollars.

    When a company starts selling computers with Apple's software preloaded, however, they start to take significant money away from sales of Macs and at the same time provide OS X running in a suboptimal environment in a way Apple can't properly support. When it is a crashy mess, people blame Apple and tell others and Apple's brand loses value.

    In short, Apple is a business. They make decisions based upon how much money they stand to make/lose. They're being nice to hackintosh individuals because it is in their own best financial interests. They're bringing the hammer down on Pystar for the same reason.

  • by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:43AM (#28106175) Journal

    No, he's the sort that can still use the Mac they purchased seven years ago because it was upgradable and expandable. It would be obsolete dumpster filler without that option, just like how "Any slotless-Mac you buy right now will obsolete once the first USB 3 only peripheral ships."

  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) <> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:45PM (#28113247) Homepage

    Every couple years, something amazing comes out that actually needs good integration. Nobody knows what it will be yet. But everyone with an iMac will have to settle for the external USB2 version that barely kinda works.

    The problem has been that every couple of years the busses change too. A couple years ago, it was PCI-X and before that it was wide PCI, and AGP for video. If tomorrow's hot new thing is available only with tomorrow's hot new bus, it doesn't matter how many PCIe slots you've got, you're still hosed.

    The trend has actually been away from internal bus based expansion and towards network (via Ethernet and WiFi) and external expansion (via USB, Firewire or bluetooth). In that sense, Apple has (once again) been leading the industry.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling