How attractive is a US$399 Mac clone?

Apple's current pricing strategy may encourage buyers in the Asia-Pacific region to turn away from Mac-cloned machines, says an IDC analyst.

Apple's strategy in recent years of setting more affordable prices for its computers in the Asia-Pacific region, could make Mac clones unattractive if such machines are made available here.

Reuben Tan, IDC's Asia-Pacific senior manager of personal systems, told ZDNet Asia that current prices of Apple systems make it hard to justify the purchase of Mac clones.

"Five years ago, the opportunity may have been there for the makers of such products," Tan said in a phone interview. "Apple used to focus on the high-end [market segment] but is now moving to the mainstream with features like Boot Camp."

Boot Camp is a utility tool, which comes with Apple's Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard" operating system, that enables users to install Windows XP or Vista on Intel-based Mac computers.

Florida-based Psystar in April began selling, in the United States, its Open Computer product line that runs on Apple's Mac OS X.

The basic model, with a price tag of US$399, is advertised as featuring a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB of DDR 2 memory, a 250GB hard disk drive, multi-format DVD writer and integrated graphics. A copy of Leopard adds US$150 to the computer's price. This model is comparable to Apple's lowest-cost model Mac Mini, in the United States, which is priced at US$599 and features less powerful hardware components.

However, Open Computer users could face potential legal ramifications as Apple's end-user licensing agreement (EULA) expressly forbids installing OS X on a non-Apple computer.

At press time, Apple did not respond to ZDNet Asia's queries about the market for Mac clones.