Apple: If you don't "do cheap", let someone else do it instead

Apple: If you don't "do cheap", let someone else do it instead

Summary: A Dell Mini 9 can be easily transformed into a Mac OS X netbook as a Sunday afternoon project. Why won't Apple make the next logical jump -- make it legal?


A Dell Mini 9 can be easily transformed into a Mac OS X netbook as a Sunday afternoon project. Why won't Apple make the next logical jump -- make it legal? Photo: Gizmodo

This weekend, Gizmodo blogger John Mahoney posted a step-by-step tutorial of how to transform a $400 Dell Mini 9 into the ultimate Mac OS X netbook. Needless to say, what was once in the realm of pure hackerdom is now getting easier and easier to do. What used to take a week or more in order to properly piece together compatible clone hardware and do the appropriate research in order to assemble your own "Hackintosh" is quickly becoming child' play.

In summary: Grab a Dell netbook, buy a legal copy of Mac OS X, download a "Bootloader" file that you can burn to a CD or a bootable USB flash drive, boot with it on the netbook, and install Mac OS X. It's getting that easy, folks.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Of course, going out and buying a 400 dollar netbook where probably $75-$100 of the cost is Windows XP and then having to go out and spend $129.00 on Mac OS X somewhat defeats the purpose of having an affordable netbook. You now have a $530.00 netbook instead of a $400.00 one. One can buy some pretty decent full-blown laptops for that kind of money nowadays.

Also Read: Why Apple and Google Need to Get Into the Netbook Business

Also Read: PC Industry Episode II: Attack of the Mac Clones

Also Read: Psystar's Thermopylae Won't End Apple's Clone Nightmare

So it begs the question -- why hasn't Apple released its own $400 netbook? If the recession has shown us anything in this industry, it's that cheap netbooks are flying off the shelves like hotcakes.  Granted, Steve Jobs and company have always been known to be elitist, and that Apple doesn't like to "do cheap". Okay, I can relate to that, except that this prima donna premium-oriented Apple branding stubbornness and arrogance is bound to get them stuck in some serious financial doldrums with Macs if they don't do something about it quickly.

It would seem that there is a niche that needs filling, and that Apple doesn't appear to want to do it themselves. Yes, we've been down this road before with Mac clones -- and the Psystar chapter hasn't been closed yet -- but maybe, just maybe, Apple might want to consider getting some supplementary revenue from the Dells, HPs, Lenovos, and the ASUSes of this world by allowing them to produce licensed Mac OS X netbooks using a common reference design. This would be limited strictly to netbooks, so that Apple's premium notebook line would not be cannibalized, and Apple would be  getting licensing revenue from Mac OS X. To me, this seems like a reasonable compromise.

Should Apple allow OEMs to produce inexpensive Mac OS X netbooks? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

[poll id="6"]

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Follow your own advice

    Why don't you all just take a pay cut and then do less work for ZDNet?

    Wouldn't that show Apple that's the way forward?

    C'mon, you do less, slower and charge ZDNet less for it, then we can all
    have a cheaper ZDNet and maybe less ads!!
    • Well, see...

      Well, Jason says, "To me, this seems like a reasonable
      compromise." proving why he is an underpaid blogger while
      Steve Jobs is running a successful Apple. Reminder, their last
      quarter's results included 18% by units of the US personal
      computer market sales--and 31% by dollar volume. They now
      have $25 billion in cash on hand if they need it to keep their
      innovative product pipeline robust.

      We've been over the very sound reasons that Apple's business
      model is what it is so many times. They are a hardware
      company, with no interest in licensing their software to sell
      somebody else's hardware. They have always focused on
      making a superior user experience, and one important way to
      do that is to tightly link the hardware and software, so you
      know exactly what and how things need to work together.
      Perfect? No. Better than the alternatives? Yes.
  • This would worry Microsoft much more than Apple

    because hard core Apple-philes will always want the aesthetics that Apple, and no one else, has. Microsoft is the big loser here. If this starts happening, I would expect Microsoft to start funneling money into an onslaught of lawsiuits from Apple, just to save its market share.
    • I doubt that

      People don't buy Windows because they can't afford a Mac.

      Alot of people just don't want a Mac.
      John Zern
      • MOST people don't want a Mac

        I don't. It's a worse fit for my business and gaming lifestyle than Windows and it costs more, too.
  • Releasing OS X for other machines would be a boon for

    Apple, and would not affect their sales much, except in those areas where they refuse to compete.

    The hard core Apple-philes will always want the aesthetics that no one else has.

    If Apple would license this sort of thing, Microsoft would be the big loser, and I would expect it to fund an avalanche of lawsuits through Apple against almost everyone and anyone. Microsoft can't stand to lose the market share to a better system. This could break the hegemony of Windows, once and for all.

    • Stupid idea?

      Why would Apple let somebody else eat their lunch? Hardware is where
      they make a good chunk of their profits? Duh.
      • Um, let's see

        Hardware is costly to produce, package and sell; software is not.

        • Problem With The Logic

          Hi, emcauley.

          Right now, I don't think there's a large incentive for Apple to let others put Mac OSX on their machines. Why? Because as long as someone needs a legal copy of OSX to install on a Dell, Apple still gets the money from the sale of that. What advantage do they get, if they license OSX to Dell? If anything, they end up making [i]less[/i] money from OSX, because if Dell buys in volume, they'll expect a discount on the cost of the OS.

          How Apple could make money is to sell OSX to [i]end users[/i], and let them install on any computer they wanted to install on. That would give them the best of all possible worlds: They wouldn't have to make a deal with any one vendor, they would open up the market to all kinds of different users, and they could possibly open up new business for their hardware line, if new users migrate from the other vendors to Macs, after using the software.
          • I agree

            You make two good points bhartman36. I agree the vendors will want volume discounts, and I agree direct sales will account for a larger margin.

            Along that line of thinking, I think Apple may be in a stronger position than MS to withhold deep discounting to vendors. They have advantages, among others one strong advantage is enterprise connectivity: OS X is UNIX and 'nix is still the preferred enterprise back-end. In fact, this could be a massive threat to MS enterprise front and back-end if OS X proliferated on corporate desktops. Cisco does not escape the threat here either. Inexpensive security and routing appliance are popping up all over the place.

            VMS was once in this position and they opened up too late. Even Apple has been here before. They have critical mass: popularity, substance and many advantages, I'd just hate to see them miss the boat again.

            My personal opinion is that people will still buy Macs, if they continue to make them "cool." They can do what few others have been able to accomplish: make cool what is very serious.
          • Actually . . .

            Apple Doesn't HAVE an OEM license price, so theoretically it could just sell OS X to Dell, etc, for the same price as they do everyone else.

            'Course, even if they DID establish an OEM price for licensed OEMs, they'd still make more money selling 50,000 copies to Dell @ $90, than 20,000 copies to individuals @ $129, AND have the money up front, because you and I both know, most people would rather buy it pre-installed, than have to do it themselves.

        • Gee EMcAulet - Guess that's Microsofts problem?

          Again, WHY would Apple take the losing side of the coin toss and produce only software? Hardware is where the money is at as long as you don't sell your soul to Microsoft!
          No More Microsoft Software Ever!
    • "Apple should become just a software company!"

      Here we go again.

      Licencing Mac OS didn't work before. Killing the licensing was one of the things that SAVED Apple as a company.

      If you seriously think Apple would benefit from allowing their OS to run on other manufactuers' hardware (through licensing, direct sales of boxed copies, or whatever), I have some land I want to sell you in Florida.
      • No . . .

        accepting a handout from Bill Gates is what saved the company that time.
        • One more time...

          I guess you are referring to the $150 million in non-voting stock MS bought way back in 1997. That was part of a settlement engineered by Steve Jobs to finalise all the law suits between Apple and MS at the time (the Apple vs MS interface suit was [b]still[/b] going on). Also in the agreement was that MS would continue to develop a Mac version of Office for another 5 years.

          There were also some mumblings about Java that didn't come to much.

          At the time, $150 million was barely more than petty cash to both companies, though it did give Apple a bit of cash to play with. Note that about the same time, MS blew $450 million on WebTV.

          MS did really well out of the Apple stock, not so with WebTV.
          Fred Fredrickson
          • Correction

            It was $150 Million in stock, and a similar, undisclosed amount in a
            cash settlement.

            Without admitting wrongdoing, of course.

            That settled the Quicktime theft lawsuit, as well as others.

            Microsoft doubled their money on the Apple stock investment,
            assuming they sold the moment the agreement expired.

            And of course they saved quite a bit of money on legal fees by
            terminating the lawsuit.

            Now that I think on it, I don't recall their stealing anything from Apple

            Imitation, of course. But not actual code theft.

            Maybe they learned something?
        • Pocket change

          In 1997 when Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple, Apple had sales of over $7 billion.

          That $150 million was pocket change.

          (Also bear in mind that the amount Microsoft recently invested in Facebook was $240 million, which gave them only a 1.6% share of the company. So, $150 million may seem like a lot to an individual, but it's really just peanuts to big companies.)
    • Which is why Steve Jobs

      is the billionaire and you aren't?

      If it was as easy and sure a thing as you claim, they'd have done it allready.

      But then it's easy to say these things when it's not your company to lose.

      I'd go with what Jobs feels is best for Apple, not some blogger here making a five figure salary.
      John Zern
  • Cost of Windows

    Isn't MS or the OEM required to refund the cost of bundled Windows if it's returned intact?
    Fred Fredrickson
    • Perhaps, but...

      Perhaps HW vendors are required to do this, but that's not really an issue. Hardware vendors subsidize most of the cost of the OS, so the end user is actually charged substantially less (around $5, I believe). If users really want to return their perfectly good OS for five bucks, then maybe they can, but they certainly would never see the actual cost of the license because they simply didn't pay for it.