Questions swirl around Mac clone maker Psystar

The Mac world is playing detective this week, trying to track down more information about the mysterious company selling Mac OS computers without a license.

Psystar Open Computer
The Psystar Open Computer, the source of a huge Internet kerfuffle this week. Psystar

The more we learn about Mac clone maker Psystar, the more questions arise.

For those of you who missed it, the interest of the Mac world this week swung from 3G iPhone rumor-mongering to South Florida, where a company called Psystar has put up a Web site selling a product called an Open Computer. The product is essentially a white-box Mac with Mac OS X Leopard preinstalled, and a violation of Apple's licensing agreement for Mac OS X.

The Guardian did a little digging Tuesday into some of the basics around Psystar, such as its exact location and ownership. The company's main business appears to be IT consulting for small and medium-size businesses, such as setting up networks and telecom equipment and providing technical support.

The psystar.com domain name was registered in 2000, according to a Whois search, but the site does not appear to have been active before this past weekend, when news of its existence flooded the Internet. The domain is registered to Rodolfo Pedraza of Miami, who is probably the Rudy Pedraza who spoke to Ars Technica about his company on Tuesday.

According to Florida business records (PDF), Psystar was registered as a company on July 6, 2007, at 10645 SW 112th Street in Miami, a residential neighborhood in the Olympia Heights (2:05pm - Sorry, wrong neighborhood) area south of the city center. That was the address listed on Psystar's contact page on Monday, but at some point on Tuesday, Psystar changed its official address to 10481 NW 28th Street, a commercial district near Miami International Airport.

Several Gizmodo readers went to both addresses on Wednesday, and found no trace of any company named Psystar. A CNET News.com reader wrote in Tuesday night pointing out that a screen-printing company called CottonImages.com lists their address as 10481 NW 28th Street.

A spokesman for Cottonimages.com denied any knowledge of Psystar to Computerworld on Wednesday, and said no company by that name was located at their address. UPDATED 1:30 p.m. PDT--Gizmodo notes that Psystar's address has changed again, this time to 10471 NW 28th Street. Maybe the 10481 address was just a typo, but it's not clear. UPDATED 4:25 pm--Believe it or not, they changed it again. Psystar is now located at 10475 NW 28th Street. This is really weird.

I tried to call Psystar executives Wednesday morning and was directed to submit any questions to an e-mail address at Psystar. The company doesn't appear to have been prepared for the onslaught of attention following the discovery of the Open Computer on its Web site, as its online store was briefly down Wednesday morning. It's now back up and taking orders.

Perhaps foolishly, once the Web store came back online I placed an order for an Open Computer with Leopard preinstalled. I got the basic model for $554.99, although they kill you on shipping with a $93.41 shipping and handling fee for UPS Three-Day Select.

A gentleman who answered the "sales" extension at Psystar's toll-free number told me there is a 7- to 8-day build time right now for the Open Computer. When I asked him what accounted for the delay, he said the company had received many orders in the past few days. He also said he had only started at the company a few days ago.

In other Psystar news, the developer who created the firmware emulator that allows the Open Computer to bypass Apple's restrictions on Mac OS X is peeved that the company is using his technology without his permission.

Netkas, who created the EFI v8 emulator, says he released the software under a strict noncommercial license. For a while, Psystar had not even acknowledged his contribution, but the company has added an "open source" section to its site noting his authorship of the EFI v8 emulator and saying, "Psystar will promote Open Source projects in every way possible."

Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that the author of software that is designed to violate a company's licensing agreement is annoyed that another company is using that software in violation of his own licensing agreement?

Anyway, that's the latest with Psystar. I'll update this post later if I get a response to my e-mailed questions, or if anything else surfaces.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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