They probably won't last long, once Apple's lawyers get rolling, but a PC company is offering the first Mac clones that I've seen in more than a decade. If you want one, you'd better get them before Apple's lawyers drop a letter, or worse.
We shouldn't be surprised someone would try clones. Once Apple moved from Motorola to Intel chips, it was only a matter of time before somebody had the Mac OS running on non-Apple machines. And a number of people have done just that, after jumping through patches and other techie hoops.
Now a company called Psystar is offering a generic computer with Mac OS X preloaded. It costs around $550, or about the same as a low-end Mac Mini. But it comes with better hardware that's also easier to upgrade.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs killed a brief experiment in Mac clones back in the late 1990s when he resumed control of the company. Before he did, we had gleefully bought one of those Mac clones, a StarMax from Motorola, and then found ourselves with a dead-end machine.
Apple software updates have disabled iPhone cracks by users who want to use the handsets on wireless networks other than AT&T's. I'd expect Apple to do the same to Mac clones. Even Psystar, on its site, warns against Mac OS updates. "There are some updates that are decidedly nonsafe," Psystar says. "It's best to check the Web for this information, but when in doubt don't update it."
I may have been dumb enough to buy a StarMax clone from a big company like Motorola. Now some unknown "star" is offering the siren song of a cheaper Mac. No thanks.