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whether Apple can stop people installing purchased retail copies of OSX on hardware not bought from Apple, and whether Apple can stop me paying the corner shop to do something with my purchased copy of OSX, this must be very doubtful indeed.
Correct me if I'm wrong -- but as far as I understood, Psystar is not doing that. As in, you do purchase a retail copy of Leopard, but the version they use is patched, and so are the updates they use (you can't use Apple's official updates).
Even if the hacking is indeed minimal, this isn't really the end of the day. because one of the claims Apple makes is related to damage to the company's image. Quite frankly, depsite repeated claims of Hackintosh users or ex-users (I've gone through it myself a couple of times), there's a handy difference in stability between the two systems, due to the use of a not-quite-perfect EFI emulator. On an EFI-enabled motherboard, this is not a problem, but on the kind of system that Psystar sells, the image you get about OS X is that it's a feeble system that tends to crash due to mysterious reasons, which gets massive 500 MB+ updates that download horribly slow and need to be propperly hacked in order to load on your machine. Which is not exactly a fair image.
Granted, you also get the idea that Apple sells horribly overpriced hardware, which they do. Truth does hurt I guess.
Apple's central problem here is that the distinguishing mark of a Mac is simply that these parts, which could have been bought anywhere, were bought from Apple. It is purely a question of channel. That is the only difference between a Mac, a Dell or a Compaq: its just about who you bought them from. So the case is quite nakedly about forcing people to use parts bought from Apple. Will it really hold up?
Actually, this is arguable. It might be true for Mac Pro (I'm not sure about it though), but I'm sure you'd have a very hard time building a Mac Mini or an iMac from stock parts. Most of them are available, but some (like the Mini's motherboard) are not.
Could Gillette in the days when everyone used wet razors really prevent by a condition of sale a third party from packaging their own handles with packs of Gillette blades?
I tend to agree on that; I'm sure Gillette could *license* those to anyone, but I have a hard time believing that a company using Gillette blades (with the name "Gillette" stamped on it in big letters) use it without licensing and without paying hefty roylaties. If this was so, and to carry on with your analogy, I'm sure Coca-Cola wouldn't object if I started producing funny-shaped bottles filled with Coca-Cola.
As for the innovation part -- I think people start to take it for granted the Apple have been the bing innovators and Microsoft the ones who were copying stuff. This isn't quite true -- a lot of Apple's innovations aren't really, well, in-house, beginning with the GUI and ending with USB or Spotlight.
However, what is true about Apple is that they have tended to be early adopters of such technologies; my old iMac G3 had only USB ports in a time when most computers didn't have any and Windows was regularly crashing when dealing with them. The same goes for Spotlight, for instance -- it's certainly not the first desktop search/indexing solution, but it got very good integration and it's quite helpful.
Nevertheless, I think it's wrong to give credit to companies for being the first ones to do X or include Y. Credit should be given on how well a feature is implemented; if it weren't so, we'd be using Xerox Stars now. Edited 2008-07-21 23:24 UTC