Mac Clones and Psystar

Given an adequate value proposition, which I don't believe Psystar offers, the legal basis for a MacOS X clone business would the 1984 Court of Appeals decision (and the Supreme Court's subsequent refusal to over-turn it) in DigiDyne Corp Vs. Data General.

Back in August of 2006 I outlined a business plan for a guy in California who wanted to go after the PPC market Apple was then abandoning. There were three keys to my plan: a manufacturing and sales partnership with a major defence contractor; a commitment from Freescale on supplying processors; and a 1984 legal judgement we thought would force Apple to let us load MacOS X on our machines.

That judgement, rendered by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District in the case of DigiDyne Corp. Vs. Data General ( 734 F.2d 1336 (9th circuit, 1984)) "held that Data General's refusal to license its copyrighted computer software to those who did not purchase its hardware was an unlawful tying arrangement" and this was not over-turned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since the intended market for our new PPC Macintosh continuation was initially to be the more security conscious arms of the American government (for whom Sun's SPARC stations are now the only workable alternative) we thought it met all legal tests both in terms of intent and in terms of precedent - meaning, on net, that Apple would be forced to sell and support MacOS X on our machines for civilian uses too.

Unfortunately the financial prime mover in the deal was and is a rather well known American democrat whose commitment to financing consisted of being willing, and I thought probably able, to get an appropriate earmark through Congress - and since that's something I don't go along with the deal fell apart before it really got going.

The application to companies like Psystar should be obvious - thus, while I believe this particular group is going nowhere because there's no real value in using even lower quality hardware to compete with Apple's already low quality hardware, the potential clearly exists for someone to break open the MacOS X clone or PPC continuation markets.

Who that someone will be I've no idea - but the legal opening exists, at least with respect to the American market, and Apple itself is, I think, losing interest in the Macintosh as it shifts both its image marketing and its revenue focus to more current and forward looking products like the iPhone.

So, will it be Psystar? I don't think so - but how about IBM? or a pretend start-up funded by Microsoft?