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Would you buy a Mac 'clone' (a generic PC that can run OS X)?

1/1: Would you buy a Mac 'clone' (a generic PC that can run OS X)?

Yes if Apple makes it legal to use OS X on one 342 (15.72%)
Definitely yes 148 (6.80%)
Most likely I would 105 (4.83%)
Maybe, but I'd want to test it first 373 (17.14%)
Probably not 547 (25.14%)
No way! 548 (25.18%)
I've built one myself already 85 (3.91%)
Other answer? Comment, please... 28 (1.29%)
Other polls | 2,176 votes | 32 comments

Would you buy a Mac 'clone' (a generic PC that can run OS X)? | 32 comments | Create New Account
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Authored by: appleman_design on Apr 18, '08 08:19:34AM

I have a legal copy of all OSX, and what computer i buy is my choice.

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A couple of things to think about
Authored by: hbp4c on Apr 18, '08 09:01:25PM

1) When a computer manufacturer controls which hardware is paired to it's software, the outcome is generally a better unit overall. With windows, one of the reasons it has been considered "unstable" for so long is the ungodly amount of hardware support that has to be built into the system, there are hooks for every single keyboard, many video cards, mountains of sound cards... and so on. With mac, there are maybe 15 video cards and 2 or 3 keyboards that have to be supported, meaning the OS has a much simpler job of keeping everything running smoothly. If a clone manufacturer comes in and starts producing hardware that apple did not design, the OS may or may not prove to be as reliable as it currently does on Mac hardware.

2) Currently apple is basically breaking even on software and making money on hardware sales. If we all begin to buy clones, the price of the OS upgrades will increase. While it's simple to say "well, we're saving hundreds on hardware" I'll still bet that we're going to complain when the OS comes with a $450 price tag (like windows).

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Apple sells hardware, not the OS
Authored by: Auricchio on Apr 18, '08 08:50:00AM

Apple makes money as a hardware company, not as an OS supplier. This was the case 15 years ago, and it's still the case today.

EMOJO: mojo no longer workin'

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Apple sells hardware, not the OS
Authored by: Anonymous on Apr 19, '08 12:04:11PM

Funny. I've managed to buy quite a few software items from the Apple store. You might want to check it out. It's pretty sweet, man. Right now, I'm using a browser called "Safari". Came with an OS called Tigger, which I installed over Pants-Hair, and that over Jah-McGuire or something. You can do email and all sorts. You should stop using your Apple things as doorstops and see what happens when you "plug" them "in".

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Apple sells hardware, not the OS
Authored by: mm2270 on Apr 21, '08 08:22:02AM

What does your comment have to do with Apple making money off the OS? Yes, Apple provides a rich experience in OS X, but that is done to drive sales of Mac hardware, which is what makes them money. Many of their products use the same model. Look at the iPod and the iTunes Store- The iTS doesn't make them much profit. It's all done to help drive adoption of the iPod, which is lucrative for them.

Again, I have no idea what point you were trying to make above.

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Apple sells hardware, not the OS
Authored by: robogobo on Apr 21, '08 03:03:58PM

Hey, take it over to Digg!

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Consumer before Company
Authored by: mini.boss on Apr 18, '08 09:10:00AM

It's really sick how many people out there worry more about the corporate well-being over what's good for the consumer. There are a lot of people who dislike (or even take offense to) the idea of a Mac clone, but there are some things that seems to always be ignored:

1) It's not the mid 1990's anymore.
There are constant references to the failure of clones in the Macs past, but those failed for a reason. PPC Macs ran on very high end and expensive hardware so the end result were clones that were poor in quality and support. Many of us from those days understood how bulletproof our PowerMacs were and that justified the pricetag.

But with the Intel switch then todays Intel Macs aren't different from the Intel PC's. So the chances of getting a troublesome Mac is just as likely as getting a faulty Dell/HP/Clone. These parts all come from the same place.

2) Overpaying for the Name
I have no problem with what I paid for my Mac. BUT, I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't overpay for what I got. As said earlier, the quality of parts stink all around and that is a huge reason why many of us are constantly pushing people to get AppleCare. One day you WILL need it.

And that is where clones come in. Some of us buy AppleCare and do maintenance to ensure a long life for our $2000 Mac. But if you start hitting Dell/HP/Clone prices then there's no guilt in upgrading your $500 Mac Clone every 18 months. I've been doing that with PC's for years so why not Macs?

3) Clones are offering something Apple Doesnt
Prices aside, If the clones were offering a "mini" and an "all-in-one" then people wouldn't care as much. But what they have is an upgradeable consumer tower. You know, the biggest selling desktop style for the last 20 years.

Apple is trying to be unique with the Mini and iMac but the reality is that average consumers like towers. There's no compromises in miniaturized parts. There's no need to throw away the integrated monitor because the motherboard died. And even though most users don't ever open their system, mentally it gives them user a sense of security that IF they ever wanted to upgrade something then they can and it won't cost much.

Overall, I think that this hoopla over PsyStar would be a great thing for the Mac Community. It would be a huge signal to Apple that they need to fill that gaping hole in their lineup and start adjusting their prices to match the market. But once again the Mac Community is working AGAINST the consumer and doing what they can to try to spin good ideas like "affordable Mac tower" into a bad idea.

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You must be a communist.
Authored by: fritz102 on Apr 22, '08 06:42:36PM
I assume, then, that you are a communist.

I don't mean that as an insult (it's certainly not intended as one). But putting the person before the company is distinctly a communist idea. Companies need to make money to innovate, and Apple does that by making rock-solid hardware and software that work together. Allowing clones would put a knife in Apple's business strategy. And if you like Macs as they currently are, that's a very bad thing.

Having solid integration between software and hardware is (basically) all that distinguishes a Mac. It's what enables neat features like Remote Disc in MBAs, plug-and-play-just-about-anything, and generally the ease-of-use and stability that a PC lacks. And if you can forgo such features, there already is a substitute. Windows. But the stability of a Mac is what sets it apart, and the sexiness of the hardware helps.

You say you overpay for the Apple name, but the Apple brand sets it apart from the PCs that, presumably, you dislike. Allow clones, and the importance of the Apple name disappears--but so do all of the advantages.

My point is this--you can't both have clones and expect the Apple experience. And if you remove the Apple experience, you might as well be using a PC.

Product distinction. It makes good, capitalistic sense. And as always, the consumer wins.

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Company before Consumer
Authored by: S on May 19, '08 10:13:31AM

Better corporate wellbeing » more money to invest » cheaper, better products » more customers » better corporate wellbeing » more money to invest » cheaper, better products » more customers » better corporate wellbeing » more money to invest » cheaper, better products » more customers » better corporate wellbeing...

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I like the hardware...
Authored by: BenGleason on Apr 18, '08 09:25:08AM

I'd be disappointed with non-Apple hardware. If I needed to save money, I'd just buy a refurbished Mac.

Otherwise, you're just running OSX on a hacked PC,. You could get similar, cheaper results by just running Ubuntu Linux on your PC.

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I like the hardware...
Authored by: robg on Apr 18, '08 09:40:52AM

Umm, no, then you'd be running Linux, not OS X. If you run OS X on your hacked PC, you're running OS X -- which is what many Mac users seem to prefer :).

I guess I don't understand your statement...


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I like the hardware...
Authored by: dudemac on Apr 18, '08 07:36:42PM

I think what he is trying to say is that you would have more trouble with clone hardware. However, that is not really the case since I have been running generic PC hardware for years with windows and linux. In fact the latest version of ubuntu is so easy to use and install that it is almost as easy to maintain as my mac, which lately seems to be having more problems than my linux box that is a 7 year old tower with an old GeForce2 32mb video card that runs compiz (linux window compositing software) great. Wobbly windows and all the effects. I showed this to a couple of my friends and they have a hard time believing that it is an AMD duron 700 under the hood. :) But hey my macbook pro with 4gigs of ram is no slouch, and the performance that the mac interface has lacked for so long is not there anymore. It is now better than vista at most tasks. But what amazes me is that the opensource community has come up with a compositing solution that is so much more efficient than Quartz or Areo that we could have had vista or mac lick interfaces years ago.
Now what does this have to do with clones. Well it would allow people to not only configure their systems, but would allow incremental changes when things like core image happen and you need a better video card to take advantage of it. The rest of the machine doesn't really need to change. I still run Leopard on a 12" powerbook and it works great until I use a program that relies on core image. And when it off loads the work to the processor the computer will just hang. I tried using Pixelmator and that app just will not run more than a couple of minutes with out hanging so bad I have to power off the machine. Better video card would solve the problem but that is not an option. Now granted this is a bad example because it is a laptop but the point is that most people that own the essentially non upgradable macs have run into this kind of hardware limit at some point. Where on the PC side there has always been the option of component replacement. The PC maker that really made this difficult was Gateway, but they eventually changed and allowed user upgradable systems.
In my opinion there should be nothing wrong with clones. I don't think that apple should have to write drivers for clone hardware and that is where people would have problems.
For all that say apple would not make as much money if they let OS X officially run on alternative hardware. I call BS. The fact that I could run OS X on other hardware would probably result in apple getting more money from me. As I really love their portables but would also maintain a home workstation that has windows, linux, and Mac os on it. Right now I have a mini that runs parallels with these other systems on it in a virtual machine. So having a clone tower would make me purchase another OS X license. And I believe that most people right now who do buy macs would not switch to a clone. So from the outset apple would not lose any customers. What they might get though is more users and revenue via licensing.

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I voted Probably not
Authored by: acaltabiano on Apr 18, '08 09:52:19AM

... Because to me, the chances that a clone would be as well-designed as the apple machine is slim. And by design, I do not mean how it looks physically, but everything that that statement entails. There's more to a computer working than the OS on the disc, right? Firmware, BOOT parameters, etc etc. That's one reason that Windows has so many problems – so many different makers using different parts.

Apple doesn't sell an OS; they don't sell Hardware; they DO sell an experience, and what they're doing is trying to ensure that the experience you get when you purchase a mac is consistent and enjoyable and stable. Selling the HW and the SW together, fully tested, they can do that.

Now if we could GET a clone running OS X to be as stable? Then maybe. How's it look? I mean, I LIKE the physical design of Apple's products. It's not paramount, but an iMac has ONE cable, a PC tower has.... how many? Power to the box, power to the display, cable connecting the two, etc etc. Oh and then your ports are where the box is, not the display, which is less convenient....

PC boxes blow ass design-wise. I have no desire to incur the costs of their shoddy design, no matter how "cheap" the purchase cost is.

but they could get my money if they did it right, sure. There's just much to be done to do it right, and thus far Apple has done it right, and been the only ones to do it.

timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a raindance

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I voted Maybe
Authored by: chrischram on Apr 18, '08 12:18:05PM

I've got a Power Computing clone rotting in the attic. When it was new it ran just like a Mac (being a legal clone), but always looked like a butt-ugly PC. When the innards started failing one-by-one, it was more like a butt-ugly PC through and through.

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Authored by: brucio on Apr 18, '08 10:23:35AM

I like Macs and I want a HD HTPC; the Mac mini would work for me if it had a better video option. Since it doesn't, I'll probably build a PC. Updates won't be a problem, once it's working I probably won't mess with it again.

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One Vendor, One Solution, One Answer
Authored by: SubGenius on Apr 18, '08 10:40:24AM

I admin a 95%+ Mac Network, and somehow the Apple Systems just work, and the Windows Systems always need TLC (a hammer to the side of the case). My fear, is with the introduction of "branded clones", we will see a spike in poor driver development. Machines that are "to spec" but fail to meet performance standards or have higher the normal failure rate.

From a business perspective cheap may be better on the budget, BUT good luck to Joe the traveling executive. If His CloneBook (Trademark pending) breaks down, he will not be able to just pop into a apple store and get it fixed.

And besides, do you want a Ferrari or a Pontiac Fierro that looks like a Ferrari? And breaks down just as often if not more. Apple's design is a big part of why people by mac. Yes, if the same parts are used on the component level, in theory the machines will perform the same. But QA will be different, the support structure will be different, the look will be different and at the end of the day not as good (remember the PowerComputing systems??).

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If it was legal...
Authored by: adamb529 on Apr 18, '08 03:53:03PM

If it was legal, I would probably build my own. I've always wanted to build my own PC, but now that I've switched to the Mac, it isn't possible. I'm not sure that I'm comfortable violating Apple's SLA to do it, but it is very tempting.

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If it was legal...
Authored by: Hanii Puppy on Apr 19, '08 05:08:46AM

If it was legal, I would probably build my own. I've always wanted to build my own PC, but now that I've switched to the Mac, it isn't possible. I'm not sure that I'm comfortable violating Apple's SLA to do it, but it is very tempting.


You could always buy an empty Mac Pro case from a third party seller you know.

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If it was legal...
Authored by: Anonymous on Apr 19, '08 12:11:04PM
No need.
2. Permitted License Uses and Restrictions.
A. This License allows you to install and use one copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. []
You get stickers. Label it yourself.

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Apple's product line
Authored by: gxw on Apr 18, '08 05:51:22PM

One thing that is missing in Apple's product line is a mid range self upgradeable pc. All they really have is the iMac then the Mac Pro. They need something in between. I like my iMac but now the Super Drive is busted and I cannot replace it myself. I'm not willing to shell out the $3000 for a pro model.

Like to see something where I can swap out the hard drive, video card, memory, etc as my needs change. This is the main reason I would build a 'Franken Mac'.

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Missing an entire range of products
Authored by: Panjandrum on Apr 19, '08 06:54:58AM

Just among my group of friends I've seen Apple lose sale after sale to long-time Windows users because Apple does not make a model they want. They want a mid-range machine which can be upgraded properly like a normal tower. Or, they want a small yet powerful portable (they need a proper 3D chipset).

Just one example: One friend buys a new laptop for his personal and business use every single year (well, his business buys him whichever new laptop he wants). He's been looking at Mac laptops since the day they introduced Windows compatibility. He goes to the Apple store, he fondles the machines, he loves the designs, he wants to run the Mac OS for most things and wants to run Windows for some important business applications (CAD). Each time he leaves the Apple store without a Mac laptop. Why? Simply because he, like many others, wants a powerful laptop in the 12" - 14" range. The 15" MacBook Pro is just too big for all the lugging around he does. When he wants a bigger screen, he'll plug one in.

Apple NEEDS competition, if only to force Apple to fill the glaring gaps in their product lines. Competition is a good thing, and if it existed it would most likely mean a broader Apple line as well.

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Apple's Choice
Authored by: stewarsh on Apr 19, '08 09:59:12AM
What seems to be getting lost in this debate is that it is Apple's choice to not make a mid-range machine. There are already too many players in that market that are having problems(Dell, HP, Lenovo/IBM). Why in the hell would Apple want to join them?

Also for all those people who want to swap the video card, etc, the primary reason Apple doesn't do this is on the non-pro end is simple. If something doesn't work the average consumer would blame Apple. Apple commands a premium price because of the whole package you get from owning a Mac. By controlling all the hardware and the OS the can ensure that things are going to work and work well. By having to support every piece of crap component that you can get at BestBuy they'd end up with Windows. If that's what you want go buy a Dell or build your own machine.

Apple is doing very well, even in this more troubled economy. Why screw that up to cater to a market that really just wants Windows anyway? As for this clone business, it looks like a total sham anyway. The address has changed 4+ times on their website and the addresses listed either don't exist or have never hear of the company. This is a hoax or a scam.

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Not right now . . .
Authored by: bedouin on Apr 19, '08 12:25:11PM

OS X is made possible by R&D subsidized by hardware sales, so I don't mind supporting a company that brings me a really enjoyable experience.

Now, let's say my money become extremely tight and there's no way I can afford a new Mac? I'd probably build a clone myself rather than buy one premade.

Oh, and I have to be able to run Software Update without worrying about my entire install being hosed. That's the big IF in this equation.

Otherwise, no deal.

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Woz on Psystar OpenPro: "I like the price, so I may get one"
Authored by: appleman_design on Apr 21, '08 07:35:14AM

"You have a right to run Mac Software on any non-Apple computer, but you don't have the right to copy codes that are built into Apple's hardware, so you are stuck," he said.
In the end, the OpenPro is an interesting product, even if just from a curiosity standpoint. We will have to see if Psystar is able to actually ship the computers, though, and if customers will be satisfied with their purchase. If so, Woz might give it a chance. "I need another tower and I like the price, so I may get one."

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Woz on Psystar OpenPro: "I like the price, so I may get one"
Authored by: appleman_design on Apr 21, '08 07:42:00AM

corporate info

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Voted 'maybe'
Authored by: mm2270 on Apr 21, '08 08:15:07AM

I voted for "Maybe, but I'd want to test it out first" primarily because I don't trust the idea of a clone being anywhere near as reliable as a genuine Apple built Mac. Id' be willing to at least give it a look though, so I voted in this category as opposed to the "No way" one.

In reading through the comments on this poll page, I think many people who are arguing that Apple would bring in more customers or sales by allowing clones are missing one really big point. OS X currently has no licensing DRM in place. Apple would have no choice but to start shipping Leopard with serial numbers, and possible even an activation scheme. The current Leopard OS is available now on various bit torrent sites, and those files would become hugely popular if clones were allowed. So, in that scenario; person buys Mac clone and downloads Leopard Install Disk.iso file from bit torrent, Apple would make exactly $0. Not very profitable for them, so where's the incentive?
Keep in mind that Steve Jobs' vision of the Mac is simplicity from the consumer perspective. In the world that many seem to want, the average Mac buyer who would purchase from Apple would suddenly have to worry about serial #s and activations DRM schemes, something that many switchers are running from on the Windows side. And this would all be done so that a minority of tinkerers could satisfy their inner Scrooge's to buy a cheapo Mac. Why would Apple choose to do this?

Of course, if they officially sanctioned clones, they could also charge the clone makers a licensing fee, which in turn would drive up the price of these cheap clones.
In either scenario though, something would need to change from the current model. I don't like the idea of OS X coming with activation or bothersome serial #s, (and I suspect Apple doesn't love it either) and if Apple chooses to charge fees to the clone producers, then the price of their offerings goes up.

Overall I just don't think it makes much sense. I know others are inclined to vehemently disagree.

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Voted 'maybe'
Authored by: robogobo on Apr 21, '08 03:17:56PM

Right on.

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Probably not
Authored by: robogobo on Apr 21, '08 03:14:03PM

Apple does have a huge gap to fill. That's the only reason I'm happy to hear about the return of the Clones. Clones are ugly, and probably will lead to more trouble for all of us in the form of bloated hardware support. That's the reason I'm happy to hear Psystar was a hoax.

Hopefully, Apple will wake up and realize the reality of the situation. They simply need a user upgradeable machine beside the Mac Pro. I got a Mac Pro for this very reason. But I dare say I use a fraction of its power, which makes me feel like I'm wasting energy each time I fire it up. Sure, in 5 years it'll still beat out the then-current iMac, but still, I'd have gone for a mid sized tower in a heartbeat.

However, I, like the rest of you, buy Macs at least partly because they are beautiful machines. And yes, we pay for it.

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I built one a while ago, but...
Authored by: mkutny on Apr 21, '08 06:23:27PM

...what a pain to get working just right! I know the OSx86 folks have made major headway, but it's still a hack, and to keep the system running you need to rely on more hacks. I have tried this on more than one system, with the right chipsets, etc., and couldn't get everything working 100%. I am sure there have been some big improvements in the project over the past year or so, but I'm skeptical. Running desktop Linux, in my experience, was easier, and I gave up that quest when I bought my first iBook with Panther.

If Apple will support the OS on generic systems, then maybe I would consider a so-called "clone". Apple's hardware tech support is quite good though, and to me that is worth a few extra dollars.

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I want to make my own sub-notebook
Authored by: mmulhern on Apr 22, '08 06:12:48PM

The MacBook Air is a loverly machine, but after all the waiting I found that it is exactly the notebook I don't want. It would be great to build /configure my own sub-notebook, something along the line of Asus eeePC700/900.

Price is not the issue, if Apple was to have a sub-notebook range (MacBook mini) I'd buy one in a shot.

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Probably not
Authored by: dille on Apr 23, '08 11:03:20AM

If I want a Mac, I want a Mac, which is hardware + software. If I want to go cheap, I'll slap Ubuntu on a cheap box. Yes, I am aware that Ubuntu != MacOS X.

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Authored by: dudemac on Jun 17, '09 07:31:05AM

Although I really respect the hardware design of apple, after the initial aesthetic wears off, it is really just a nice wrapper for the OS. And the screen that I stare at all day is not an Apple. The mini just sits in a corner on my desk.

And I really wish my Macbook pro was built more like my T43 IBM. Not that I don't like all the features of the Macbook Pro, I would just like something that is a little tougher.


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