Reports that Apple initially shut down Psystar's website were wrong. Apple is a powerful company but shutting down a website requires a court injunction, of which there have been no reports. Psystar's website went down because it couldn't handle the monstrous spike in traffic when news of its existence broke. And this is the interesting bit for Apple - the demand for Mac clones is demonstrably huge.
Apple and its legendary co-founder Steve Jobs have repeatedly let it be known in no uncertain terms that the idea of Mac clones in anathema to them. So why hasn't Apple already bombarded Psystar with a legal barrage of writs and demands to cease and desist?
After all, Psystar is not only making PC hardware that uses a software hack to by-pass the Mac Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. The Miami system builder is also offering to help buyers install a legitimately purchased copy of Mac OS X Leopard on their new Psystar Open PC box.
Apple's inactivity to date could be merely a case of the hardware giant gathering its legal forces to slap Psystar down so hard that it presents an example to anyone else who dares to challenge the might of Cupertino. On the other hand, it could be a case that Apple knows that its legal position is not as strong as some may believe and it has now been forced into an area where it wishes it didn't have to go.
First there is the issue of the Mac OS X software license. Anyone who argues that Apple is just a hardware company is plain wrong. Here in Australia, I can walk into any Apple reseller's store and purchase a packaged copy of Mac OS X Leopard no questions asked for AUD$158. Aside from the fact that it's a pretty good bargain compared to the price of a boxed copy of Vista Ultimate, it demonstrates without argument that whatever else it is Apple is also a software company.
If a serious antitrust challenge to Apple's Mac hardware and Mac OS X tie-in ever does see the light of day, the implications for Apple could be far reaching. The Mac OS X EULA could end up being deemed to have some illegal clauses. What's more, Apple could be forced to issue updates to all purchasers of a Mac OS X license, regardless of the hardware.
Apple has been very low key about its response to Psystar to date. Maybe it's preparing to go in boots and all and maybe not. Whatever the case, it's hard to imagine that Apple has not been preparing itself for something like Psystar from the day it decided to move to the Intel platform. Therefore, is it too much of a stretch to believe that Apple could in fact have already been preparing a strategy to take Mac OS X outside the Apple walled garden?