Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Apple in Court

Don Reisinger thinks that he has the solution to Apple's legal troubles with Psystar: licensing OS X to hardware manufacturers.

Reisinger, of course, concedes that Apple has tried this in the past:
Before I get into why Apple should license Mac OS X to eliminate Psystar and change its strategy, I should mention that Steve Jobs has consistently said licensing Mac OS X is out of the question, since he considers the software a competitive advantage. I should also note that Apple licensed Mac OS while Steve Jobs wasn't at the company and that the licensing strategy almost led to its ruin at that point.
I don't know how many people remember PowerPCs, but they were crap. The reason Apple makes better computers is not just its better operating system, but because of their hardware standards. The reason Apple almost collapsed is because licensing compromised those standards and diluted Apple's good reputation. HP and Dell make cheaper machines, and not just because they don't offer OS X. They are also lower in hardware quality.

And look at Microsoft, who long ago decided to go the licensing route and eschew producing their own hardware. Why would Apple envy Microsoft's current position of rapidly falling market share and constant attack from Google.

Reisinger tries to take this on:
As I mentioned, Steve Jobs believes that licensing Mac OS X would mean that Apple would lose its competitive advantage. I disagree.

Years ago, that sentiment would probably hold true, but today, we're living in a much different environment, and Apple is widely considered the most appealing company in the industry. In other words, more than enough consumers are buying Apple products simply because they're from Apple. What makes anyone think that just because HP and Dell have Mac OS X running on their own machines, suddenly all of Apple's customers will move to competing hardware?
But here he misses the point. Apple is widely considered the most appealing company in the industry for a reason. Their current strategy is increasingly successful as time goes on. Why abandon a successful strategy? Isn't it possible that the OS X exclusivity that Reisinger dismisses so easily is the key to the whole game?

And Apple has initiated another licensing suit, this time against Wired magazine for promoting a violation of the OS X EULA (End User License Agreement, for the uninitiated).

So whatever Reisinger thinks, it appears that Apple is going to stick to its strategy of keeping OS X on Apple-made machines. As a recent switcher to Apple, I'm glad.

Oh, and for added entertainment, the latter suit seems likely to include a multitude of references to... you guessed it! Pirates!
In its article, the Conde Nast division admitted the practice was illegal, requiring the installation of hacked software, linking to well-known torrent site The Pirate Bay, to provide a source for the software.

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