Is it Psystar as in Sister or Psystar as in Shyster?

Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Prank Busters, You Decide

Submitted by Wayne Zebzda:

Knock Knock, who’s there? Is this company really home? Gizmodo readers

went to all the physical addresses that appeared on Psystar’s site. They found no evidence any such company had ever existed at any of the locations. One was a residence and one was a packing supply company that knew nothing of Psystar.

Recent announcements about this Apple knockoff company that will run the Leopard OS raised some interesting legal questions, hoax or not. Many wonder if Apple will sue or even issue a statement but then again, where would they send the subpoena?

Apple doesn’t really have to do anything to defend its honor, when it has such a loyal armchair detective customer base. Here’s an article from C/NET, followed by an article from Forbes that will walk you through the whole mess.

415openpromir383à—461-200.jpgSend in the Mac clones
April 18, 2008

Psystar suddenly appeared on the tech scene when it began to sell a white box PC that it says will come with Apple’s Mac OS X operating system pre-installed, the first Mac clone since CEO Steve Jobs banished them 11 years ago.

Psystar is selling a PC called the Open Computer which comes with a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR2 memory, integrated Intel 950 graphics, and a 250GB 7200RPM drive.

Psystar says it achieved Mac OS X compatibility in its Open Computer by using an EFI emulator based on OSx86 software. The Open Computer costs $399 without an operating system but it can be ordered with Apple’s Leopard operating system pre-installed for an additional $155, according to the Psystar Web site. The lowest-cost Mac is the Mac mini which starts at $599.

Credit: Psystar

Rotten Apples?
Meet The Mac-Clone Mystery Man
by Brian Caulfield
March 18, 2008

Burlingame, Calif. – How’s this for a deal. At a fraction of the cost of a comparably equipped machine from Apple, a Web-based company dubbed Psystar is offering a computer you can have loaded up with just about any operating system you choose, including Apple’s OS X Leopard.

That would not be news if, like thousands of mom-and-pop computer builders around the country, Psystar were offering any other operating system. But that Psystar is allowing users to order what is essentially a cut-price Mac violates Apple’s licensing terms, which forbids users from jamming its software onto non-Apple hardware. The novelty generated a storm of press coverage–and when the company stopped being able to take orders and switched locations — accusations from bloggers that the start-up business is a scam.

Get Psystar President Rudy Pedraza on the phone, however, and he insists Psystar is for real. “That’s just completely wrong–we’re not out to steal anyone’s money, we want to earn it,” Pedraza says.

His explanation? The company has been overwhelmed by demand. He says his credit card processor, PowerPay, locked down his account for processing too many credit cards. When he turned to PayPal, Pedraza says Psystar’s account with the online payments specialist was quickly overloaded, too.

Pedraza explains the address changes by saying he had to move the company into a 40,000-square-foot warehouse. “We have thousands of machines we have to build and ship out,” Pedraza says.

“It’s not that we can’t provide the product or [that] Apple can stop us from providing the product,” Pedraza says, adding he’ll be able to start taking orders again soon. “The truth is, we can’t process your credit card.”

Still, Pedraza is short on the sorts of details most startups won’t shut up about. He won’t go on the record about his educational background, detail his professional history or name any previous ventures. The company’s Open Computer is based on a machine put together by his brother (whom he won’t name), he says. Nor will he say how the new computer works. He will say the company has 16 employees, and he just hired four more.

Another question mark hanging over Pedraza’s venture is Apple. One of the first thing Apple founder Steve Jobs did when he retook control of the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker in 1997 was to shut down the companies then cranking out authorized Apple clones. It was a controversial move, but one that has been forgotten as Apple’s stock price–driven by a host of new gizmos and and updated software for Apple’s computers–has soared.

More than a decade later, Apple is gobbling up market share, largely thanks to its slick new operating system (See: “Leopard On The Prowl.”) The computer maker grabbed 6% of the U.S. personal computer market in the first quarter, according to IDC, up from 4.9% the year before.

Pedraza, however, says Apple can do better. “The real problem is you have to buy Apple hardware to use [Apple software] and that’s preventing many people that would otherwise run OS X from being able to use it,” says Pedraza, adding that he’s paying retail price for Apple’s software every time he installs it on a new machine. “I just want to help Steve Jobs make more money.”

Pedraza says he hasn’t heard from Apple about his venture–yet. Is he nervous about what Apple will say? “Nope.”

Apple declined to comment to on the matter.

Technically, however, there is little stopping someone from building machines loaded up with Apple software. Plenty of Web sites will walk users through the process of putting OS X on a PC, says Andrew Storm, director of security operations at San Francisco-based network security specialist nCircle. “But nobody has gone mass-market with it,” he says.

So, if what Psystar is offering is doable, how can Pedraza shut up the skeptics? “If I were [him], I would go to the local news station and ask for a two-minute spot and bring a customer, bring the device with them and show it working,” Storm says. “When that happens, I think the whole story is going to turn around, and we’re all going to be eating it.”

Pedraza is promising to get a reference customer, and we’ll keep you up to date. Meanwhile, if you’re a Psystar customer, let us know how it’s gone. Better still, if you’ve taken delivery of one, send us a picture or a video. The less mystery, the better.