Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is Apple missing out?

The world is ready for Apple to make MAX OS X available to for PC's

Apple may as well, because others are already making it happen.

I've long been an advocate of Apple selling the operating system to those who want to install it on non Apple hardware.

Years ago Apple allowed other people to build machines with the same components and licensed the operating system. In 1998 (I think it was) Companies like Umax were selling Macintosh clones (I brought one, it was great!).

Fast forward to today and the MAC OS is now running on the same hardware as PC's making the possibility even easier. Dell and HP would happily jump at the chance to sell PC with MAC OS X installed. But Apple won't do it.

Apple maintains (amongst other reasons) that the hardware/software synergy is required to achieve the stability and reliability that MAC users enjoy and expect. If they suddenly had to support millions of hardware configurations as Microsoft windows (or Linux for that matter) does then the operating system would suffer and become less secure, prone to crashing and problematic (like it's current competition).

This is a weak excuse. There is absolutely no reason that Apple can release the MAC OS as a software operating system and specify which hardware it would run on.

The truth is, they are doing quite nicely the way things are. Producing the whole product they can make a profit on everything and guarantee a bigger sale.

Actually I don't blame any company for wanting to make an ever increasing profit, it is (after all) their duty to do so for their shareholders, but would releasing the operating system actually cost Apple money?

I don't think so.

If Apple sold the operating system, they would instantly open up a whole new market. Sure there would be new competition undercutting the Apple computers (actually thats already happening, I'll get to that soon..), but take a look at Apples customers, people buy MAC's because they are great computers, they look good and they are a strong (even cool) brand. I don't think that would stop, they would just get their computer sales and operating system sales on top.

If other people sold computers running MAC OS X they'll still never be as cool as MAC's. It still actually amazes me that there aren't any PC's that look as cool as MAC's (well I found a Sony as cool as an iMAC, but it was far more expensive). Plus if you look in other industries, big brand names are always finding a way to get their products into the hand of people on a lower budget in order to open up new markets, without hurting their brand image.

Car brands are a good example, you can buy non Mercedes SUV's with Mercedes motors. Some factories make the exact same car which sells for a different price by three different brands. Rollerblade (the big in line skating company) also owns a buget brand. They sell some models under both brands, if you want the badge you pay the price, if you can't afford to be in that club, they still make a sale and you still get the product albeit without the badge.

I'm sure that Apple could do the same.

Apple could also partner with the component manufacturers, or hardware makers. If they did release the operating system as a software only option then it would boost sales of particular hardware. Your telling me Apple couldn't get a percentage?

Well if apple doesn't, it just might miss the boat (*sighs*) -again. For those not yet in the know, since Apple MACS became Intel based (like PC's) there has been a movement of enthusiasts dedicated and determined to doing what Apple won't. Making it possible to install MAC OS on any PC. This effort is called OSX86 project, and they have done an excellent job.

If you build your own computer with exactly the same parts as in a MAC than installing MAC OS X on it is amazingly easy. Just a couple of tweaks and you have MAC OS X on your screen and be able to keep that big fat PC box on your desk (*sighs again*).

Some companies are even capitalizing on this.Take a look at this comparison of an “open computer” (now available by from a company called Psystar) and a MAC mini I found (on this pic it's called an “openMAC”, they changed the name last minute for fear of litigation from Apple, but forgot to change it on this jpg from their website)

It shows a computer built to run MAC OS (and they will deliver it pre-installed with MAC OS X Leopard) with better specifications for a lower price than the MAC mini.

For this comparison to be fair you have to consider one thing, the cost of the operating system. They should show the cost of the software in this comparison. The “OpenMAC” would cost (including software) $628 (more than the MAC mini). Just for reference, it would cost $618 using OEM Windows Vista Home Premium (note that the Leopard software is not OEM and is the 'ultimate' version).

*** oops, I almost forgot, that a new MAC comes with iLife which would cost you a further $79 if you bought the Open Computer from Psystar instead of the genuine article.

In my opinion it won't provide competition to genuine Apples (I'd still buy the MAC mini anyday) but possibly open the door to a new market.

In any case, it may prove that if Apple doesn't make MAC OS available to buy separately for installation on non Apple hardware they may suffer in the same way that the music and motion picture industry has done in the face of file sharing. Consumers showed that wanted the product a different way, when the industry failed to respond and the process went underground. Is the same fate slated for the 'budget' Apple MAC?

Only Apple really knows if their OS will ever be sold separately. If it doesn't sell it separately it may risk loosing the sector of the market that wants an ugly box with the best specification possible on the cheap, and thats something the Steve Jobs probably wont lose any sleep over.

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