New Mac clone maker to open retail store in Calif.

Quo Computer plans to open a retail store to sell non-Apple computers with Mac OS X installed, in the Los Angeles area next week. Does it face a similar fate to that of Psystar?

The idea of creating a Mac clone complete with Mac OS X is not a new concept. However, one company is taking its entry into the clone market a step further by opening a retail store in the Los Angeles area.

The new Quo Computer, set to go on sale next week. Quo Computer

Quo Computer plans to open its first retail location, selling Mac clones, on June 1. This is the first time that I'm aware of that a clone maker will have a storefront to sell its wares. Mac clone companies, to this point, have chosen to sell their systems exclusively on the Web.

"It's exciting. We are trying to stay as close to Apple as we can with our products," Rashantha De Silva, Quo founder, told CNET News. "We are trying to mimic things as much as we can. I'm hoping that Apple sees the value in what we are doing."

Apple was not immediately available for comment on Quo's endeavors.

Apple's approach to dealing with Mac clones to this point has been far from understanding. The company has a long history of protecting its intellectual property and industrial designs through the courts--just ask troubled clone maker Psystar. That's not lost on De Silva.

"They probably will (sue us)," De Silva said. "There are others doing this, but we have a different attitude. There are thousands of people in the 'Hackintosh' market, but many of them are creating bad products. I don't think anyone wins in that environment."

It's this attitude of selling a high-quality product--albeit cheaper than Apple's offerings--that De Silva hopes will appeal to consumers. Quo vows top-notch support for its customers too.

"Our customer service is gong to be up there with Apple's," De Silva said. "Hardware is important, software is important, and support is hugely important."

Quo's systems will come with Mac OS X Leopard preinstalled. You have to agree to the license when ordering the computer for them to install the operating system. But this brings up a longstanding issue between Apple and clone makers.

Apple's end-user license agreement, or EULA, forbids exactly what the clone makers are doing--installing Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware.

"This license allows you to install, use, and run one (1) copy of the Apple software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time," the EULA reads. "You agree not to install, use, or run the Apple software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so."

This is the argument Apple lawyers used to sue Psystar for selling Mac clones over the Web. Apple and Psystar were scheduled to start their trial in November, but Psystar filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week .

Even with previous clone failures, De Silva is marching on. To start, Quo will offer three desktop systems: the Life Q, Pro Q, and Max Q. While details of the components are not yet available, De Silva said they are looking at Apple's system configurations for guidance.

Pricing has also not been finalized on the desktop machines, but the company is looking to start pricing at less than $900.

While Quo is starting off with the desktop machines, De Silva said it is looking at offering an Apple TV-like media server and a smaller computer similar to the Mac Mini. Plans on those systems have not been finalized.

In addition to having its retail location and Web-ordering system to ship systems worldwide, De Silva said Quo also wants to be involved in the local community and schools. He hopes to work with school boards to get computers in the hands of children and teachers.

De Silva, a Mac user since 1984, said Quo will help switch PC users to the Mac and feels that ultimately, it will help Apple increase its market share. It remains to be seen if Apple will feel the same way.

The Quo Web site is being worked on now and is set to launch next week. The retail store, located at 2401 West Main Street, Alhambra, Calif., will open for business on June 1.

About the author

Jim Dalrymple has followed Apple and the Mac industry for the last 15 years, first as part of MacCentral and then in various positions at Macworld. Jim also writes about the professional audio market, examining the best ways to record music using a Macintosh. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. He currently runs The Loop.

 

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