Sunday, August 31, 2008

Licensing the OS, again

As John Gruber points out, there are some ideas that will never die: the insistence that Apple should license Mac OS to other hardware vendors.
It doesn’t matter how well Apple is doing, how remarkably profitable the Mac has become, how remarkably fast Mac sales are growing—the idea that Apple “must” or “should” license Mac OS X to other computer makers will never die.

And so, inevitably, here's another article on that subject, this time at the usually sensible Ars Technica.

Apple did license the Mac OS in the early nineties and that move (along with numerous other fucking awful management decisions) nearly bankrupted the company. It really cannot be said too often: Apple is a hardware company and this is even more true now than it was twenty years ago. Yes, the OS underpins all of its products (except the iPod Nano and iPod Classic) but it is the hardware that people buy.

So, can we please drop this idea that Apple should license its OS to other hardware vendors? It would be a very stupid move and one can only hope that the company is not seduced by the idea again.

DISCLAIMER: I own Apple shares.


John A said...

I have been saying "Apple is a hardware company" for years. Their software is as good as it is because it is (well, was, at least until Motorola stopped making their CPUs) largely tailored to specific hardware. Which of course, does raise the question of just why it would hurt to allow other (hardware) to use their software since it is the hardware that...

Oh. Why help sell other hardware, when that is your actual business?

Roger Thornhill said...

Getting OSX to run on stock intel hardware would be pretty difficult anyway, for even intel based models are not stock PC fayre, they are EFI-based motherboards. Apple make the best Windows machines for this reason - they are not limited by the creaking 1980's tech of the Phoenix BIOS that practically all PCs are lumbered with. Apple have leapfrogged. Big time.

That said, I do feel that since Intel came on line, the quality of the PowerPC (Moto/IBM) OSX releases has dropped.

Anonymous said...

In the grand scheme of things though, isn't the core of the Apple OS, based on BSD?

BSD is the totally free software which every other manufacturer has scrapped from code since the year dot!

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