Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why Apple Must Crush, Kill and Dismember Psystar

OK, I admit I was ready to go the other way on this one. I almost wrote an entry on why Psystar should cry foul and lawyer up and fight Apple in both the press and public opinion arenas. It was a knee-jerk reaction to David vs. Goliath.

Then, I actually thought about it.

The sticky part is the End User License Agreement (EULA) that has a little phrase in it that is the basis for the Apple suit: "You agree not to install, use or run the Apple software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so," Apple's EULA reads (download PDF)

Hmmmmm. That's interesting.

It's really clear on what Apple's intentions are - they moved to the Intel chip - and they just knew that someone like Psystar would pop up in the future - so they added some verbiage in there as a pure CYA move.

Yes, it is pretty chicken-sh*t - and it might not even be legal, but hey, it's their intellectual property. They are the ones that did the R&D, made the pretty icons, and ported the mother over from a reliance on the PowerPC chip. They also spent a fair amount of dough doing so as well.

They make up that investment by selling Mac boxes (and iPhones!). If they didn't challenge Psystar, then every schmo who could build a PC could start bundling their OS software (that they would also have to pay for just like Psystar) - and gosh... they might actually get some market share.

We wouldn't want that!

People who buy a Mac buy a Mac because they love the industrial design, and the seamless way that the OS plays nice with EVERY Mac peripheral, and the nice, hermetically sealed, Apple-only experience.

PC users buy motherboards and power supplies and build their own box - and then are free to install Windows (which they must buy), Ubuntu (which they must download) or both to make a machine that meets their needs.

Who ever heard of a clause in an EULA that doesn't allow people who buy a piece of software to install it on whatever hardware will run it? It's like buying a car and having the manufacturer tell you what roads you can drive on.


Or is it? The EULA is a contract after all. It's a contract between the maker of the software and the end user. Not all contracts are good ones, not all are "fair", and not all favor the person making the purchase. Just because a contract sucks for one party - does it make it illegal?

Not necessarily. It will be interesting to see if Psystar can pull this one out of the crapper or not (I'm betting not). Apple is already in a potentially embarassing place - being exposed for the buy-only-our-stuff-or-you-can't-use-our-stuff company it is.

Will people care? Will Psystar have the cash to lawyer up? Will the courts (if it even gets that far) buy Psystar's argument that the clause is illegal?

Only a whole lot of bucks to lawyers on both sides, and time will tell.

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