Psystar Deserves a Chance to Compete

— -- Mac clone-maker Psystar's antitrust suit against Apple was knocked down in the courts, lessening the company's chances of competing.

Earlier this year, Psystar was sued by Apple, which claimed a copyright infringement because of Pystar's clone that runs Apple's MacOS. Then Pystar countersued Apple on an antitrust ticket.

Now, Pystar's lawsuit against Apple was thrown out of U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Judge William Alsup, and the company has 20 days to revise its claims before permanent dismissal.

The dismissal should not come as a surprise. Psystar's claim that Apple has created its own independent and unique market by simply existing is hard to prove. We all know Apple has competition, but its operating system does not: no other machines can legitimately run OSX. Pystar claims that by choking off this opportunity, Apple has dominated its own OS market, and by doing so, has created a monopoly.

It's somewhat confusing, but the heart of the matter, beneath the legalese, is that Psystar wants to give Apple a much-needed run for its money, and wants to use OSX as the starting pistol. I'm inclined to say we should give the underdogs the benefit of the doubt.

Apple succeeds at almost everything it does. The company enjoys huge customer loyalty and brand recognition. Apple has created some of the most important products of our age, and, especially in the case of the iPod, has managed to murder competition barely raising an arm. I believe it's time to make Steve Jobs sweat.

If Psystar can legally produce cheap machines running OSX, it will challenge the theory that Apple rides high mainly due to its sex appeal. Psystar has briefly been given the opportunity to strip away Apple's fancy packaging and reveal the guts: solid, reliable operating systems. Now delete hundreds of dollars from the asking price and suddenly you have decent competition.

But with so many customers devoted to Apple computers, would anybody buy a rip-off machine? Yes, but not nearly as many as those who'd line up for the latest MacBook Pro. We want the reliability of its OS, of course, but we want it wrapped in a pretty bow, not some cheap plastic casing.

At the moment, Psystar's countersuit isn't strong enough to convince the court. This is a shame. As loyal to Apple as I am, I'm also a strong supporter of a free market. Psystar should get the chance to compete -- and likely to fail -- so a lesson can be learned. Maybe some people would swear off Apple products forever and run with the discount, but probably not. Apple is strong -- stronger than ever -- and could stand a little push back.