Last February I turned my Lenovo PC laptop into a Lenovo Mac and many readers told me what I was doing was illegal. Well, if that was illegal, what about the incredible offer from Psystar everybody has been talking about in the last few weeks? Here is a video on TechCrunch, long but worth watching, showing how Leopard runs smoothly on this PC, as does on my Lenovo laptop. This OpenComputer is much more powerful then a Mac Mini and at the same time is also much cheaper.

So this is my question… are clones good or bad for Apple? Will Apple prohibit them? I don’t think so, because even if they won’t let companies bundle Leopard with clones, users will always be able to buy it separately or get it illegally and install it on their PCs. Pandora’s box was opened with Apple’s shift to Intel processors.

Even if many of my readers believe clones are bad for Apple, I think clones will be instrumental for Mac OsX to get really popular and Apple much more valuable as a company. If Bill Gates has become the richest man in the world with PC clones, I don’t see why the same shouldn’t happen with Apple. Maybe clones are better then proprietary systems simply from the point of view of shareholders.

Those of my readers who bought Apple shares, like I did, last January, when I suggested to buy them at $134, could sell them today at $178. This means that if one of my readers bought $100.000 in Apple stock at $134, now he can sell them for $132.000 and get a 32% return, not bad after 90 days and reading a blog post!

With clones Apple will sell more copies of OsX and more software. It’s like piracy for Microsoft. Microsoft fights piracy but piracy is what made Windows a real global standard. Those who can pay do, others don’t. They get it illegaly but still use it. Opposing piracy is one of the reasons FON supports free software (in my company we use almost only open source software). Piracy hurts open source with its best advantage, being free (gratis).

Clones are part of the ecosystem and will incentivate Apple building better products. Let’s not forget the iPhone was a total commercial failure until it got hacked, and hacking is quite close to cloning.

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Olivier on May 4, 2008  · 

I am one of your readers who followed your advice. I even waited a couple of weeks and bought Apple stock in Feb at $125. Truth is I only invested $1,000, but still, the 40% rise would allow me now to buy a new iPod 🙂 Except that I don’t plan on selling – AAPL is just stock I wanted to have at the right price and keep long term. Thanks for the excellent tip.

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Martin Varsavsky on May 7, 2008  · 


The funny thing is that it was the first stock tip i was giving after years of blogging. I just could not believe how much Apple shares had fallen when so many trends are going in favor of the company.

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Cesar Trujillo on May 13, 2008  · 

To clone or not to clone has always been an Apple dilemma. Around 1995, Macs accounted for about 7% of the worldwide desktop computer market. CEO Gil Amelio and other Apple executives decided to launch an official clone program in order to expand Macintosh market penetration. Apple’s clone program entailed the licensing of the Macintosh ROMs and system software to other manufacturers, each of which agreed to pay a royalty for each clone computer they sold. From early 1995 through mid-1997, it was possible to buy PowerPC-based clone computers running Mac OS, most notably from Power Computing ; other licensees were Motorola, Radius, APS Technologies, DayStar Digital, and UMAX. They looked more like generic PCs than their Macintosh counterparts, but here comes the best part: after a while it was evident that the clones were in conditions to not only have the same performance, but eventually improve original Macs offer in both price and power. In other words, they frequently offered better performance at a lower price than true Macs. I even had a Power Computing clone and besides the exterior case I had nothing to miss from the original ones.

Thus, that was really hurting Apple’s weakened economy. After Jobs’ return to Apple in ’97 he turned the cloning program down by acquiring Power Computing and moving forward with the release of MacOS 8, leaving out the clone makers since they had licensing for MacOS 7 (clonemakers’ licenses were valid only for Apple’s System 7 operating system).

Truth is that Apple could have taken a better benefit of the overall cloning concept: if they had pursued a clone program in the early 1980s, Apple might have ended up in the position currently occupied by Microsoft—an extremely powerful company with high profit margins and a wide base of consumers perpetually dependent on its system software products. In despite of the good machines and power and beautiful designs from Apple, truth is Apple’s differential factor comes from software usability and interfacing concepts. By cloning or allowing PCs to run MacOS X software, Apple could take a bigger and better share of the market, while also widening the knowledge and benefits of the Macs worldwide and letting the users decide by themselves.

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