Will Apple Stem The Tide Of Mac Clones?

Samsung NC10 with OS XIt’s become quite fashionable to put Apple’s OS X on netbooks these days. The first one I heard about was the fake “MacBook nano“, an MSI Wind not only running the OS alongside Windows XP but also rebranded with an Apple logo and other surface customizations. Almost every Intel-powered netbook that’s been out for more than a few months has been tested with hacked versions of OS X, the latest being the Samsung NC10. But, as Brad at Liliputing points out, the MSI Wind is the “darling of the hackintosh crowd”. Apparently it runs OS X better than it does Ubuntu, though for a long time users weren’t able to use the Wi-Fi. That obstacle has now been overcome as members of the MSI Wind.net forums ferreted out an official driver for the Wind’s internal module. I smell more mini-Mac clones on the horizon. Apple is having a hard enough time keeping up with the full-size clones. The lawsuit with Pystar is still ongoing. And though EFIX USA’s toe in the pool of Mac clones was quickly withdrawn to avoid the ire of Apple’s lawyers, non-Apple computers running OS X aren’t going to go extinct anytime soon. According to Brian Chen of Wired’s Gadget Lab, the attack of the clones began back when Apple switched to using Intel chips. “Apple then had to code OS X to run on Intel processors, it opened a door for hackers: They could modify the operating system code to run on any Intel-powered, non-Mac machine.” He also points out that though running OS X on anything but an Apple machine violates software license agreements and copyrights, and is probably a violation of the DMCA, there are plenty of people and companies looking to do a body swerve around those limitations. Sales of Mac clones aren’t cutting into Apple’s figures significantly right now, and probably won’t in the near future. Getting the hacks to work appeals to a minority of  persistent modders and hackers. Mainstream consumers want their technology easy, working right out of the box, and backed up by customer support should something go wrong. Where Apple may be in a bit more danger is on the netbook front. Steve Jobs has famously stated that Apple isn’t ready to think about making tiny computers (not counting the iPhone). There’s clearly a desire for a Mac netbook, though.  And with the Wi-Fi driver release it’s become that much easier for the casual consumer or really devoted Mac-lover to make their own MacBook nano. (image of the NC10 with OS X from Wired Gadget Blog)

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