A Fast Look at Bogus Apple Inc. Issues

April 16th, 2008

In recent days, I’ve commented about some issues that have gotten a fair amount of press lately. Like some of the silly arguments in our presidential campaign these days about who is “elite” and who isn’t, I regard some of the most blatant spin that emerges from some tech pundits these days as completely wrongheaded. Some of it may even represent a manufactured controversy of one sort or another, but that’s for you to decide.

Chief among the silly season manifestations is the ongoing complaint that Mac security is lacking and we’re about to be infected with a serious bout of malware any day now. This doesn’t mean it can’t happen or it won’t happen, but I’m not ready to put triple locks on the doors yet. I do, however, have Leopard’s firewall running, and my router’s NAT firewall is doing its thing. I also use OpenDNS rather than my ISP’s own DNS servers, because it’s faster and uses PhishTank technology, for an added level of protection. Of course, I make sure I run regular backups of my Macs. Even this site gets a double daily backup, one of which is in an offsite location for added protection.

All right, so maybe “paranoid” is indeed my middle name.

But none of these protective steps represents anything more than some plain common sense. I still haven’t installed anti-virus software on my Macs, although I use products of that sort when I run Windows Vista on a virtual machine. So far, we haven’t seen any Mac OS X viruses seriously spread to a wide number of users, despite the fears generated by columnists who should know better and a few security companies hoping to sell some product.

Then there are the stories that iPhone sales have somehow stalled, that there were hundreds of thousands of units stuffed in boxes gathering dust in stockrooms. Now that story was quickly shown to be false. All those iPhones were likely sold, but not officially activated through traditional channels because they were unlocked and used with unapproved carriers here and there and everywhere.

In fact, if you check Apple’s site as of the day I am writing this article, there’s still that five to seven day wait to get one. There have been scattered shortages at Apple stores that, according to Apple PR, they are trying to deal with. You should, however, be able to get one at, say, an AT&T factory store, simply because they get less traffic. In fact, that’s where I got mine earlier this year.

There have also been suggestions that Apple is clearing the channel to make way for the next generation model. However, assuming iPhone 2.0 accompanies the 2.0 firmware, it’ll probably won’t happen until June or July. So cutting back production now would seem an ill-timed move. I just think demand is a whole lot higher than Apple anticipated, although we’ll learn more definitive details next week when the latest quarterly financials are released.

Another story that has erupted lately is the report from a Florida company that they’re ready to sell Mac clones, in Apple’s face, and that they can somehow weather the storm and survive the expected legal challenges.

Now, as far as I can see, this Open Computer is little more than a publicity stunt. This unknown company, PsyStar Corporation, was looking to generate interest in their products or services, and this was a sure way to accomplish that goal. Like the fabled Mac OS clones of old, they’re just selling a generic PC box outfitted with standard hardware. In fact, Apple is using a lot of off-the-shelf stuff these days too, in the wake of the switch to Intel processors. But careful circuit design, a few custom features and a pretty case combine to give a Mac sex appeal.

And then there’s the operating system that can only be installed legally on an Apple product. Besides, even if PsyStar was able to delay the inevitable and keep selling their Open Computer for a while longer, would you be willing to buy product from a company without an established reputation for quality and support just to save a small amount of money?

I hope your answer is no, unless you have cash to burn and you’re willing to take chances. Besides, an AppleInsider report is suggesting that PsyStar may be nothing more than a basement or fly-by-night operation. Time will tell.

Then again, the latest attempt at a Mac clone raises questions about whether Apple’s own computers are overpriced. A spokesperson for PsyStar came up with the nonsense that Apple is earning an “80% profit” from Macs, which is absolute nonsense. You can get a gander at the overall margins from Apple’s own financial statements.

Now if PsyStar was talking about MIcrosoft, I’d believe them.

In fact, regular and fair comparisons have shown that a Mac and a name brand PC, when identically equipped, are very very close in price. Sometimes Apple is cheaper; sometimes they’re not. Since Apple doesn’t play in the low-end of the market, where profits are difficult to come by, you will always find a cheaper PC.

Of course, it would be nice if Apple would consider building a mid-range, expandable minitower that lies between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. But that’s another argument that I’ve voiced far too often already.

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