Will Apple ever sell licensed copies of OS X for non-Mac hardware?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by skyrider007, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. skyrider007 macrumors 65816

    skyrider007

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  2. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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  3. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

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    #3
    The day Apple do that is the day they also announce a merger with Microsoft. It isn't going to happen.
     
  4. RHD macrumors 6502

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    #4
    OK, I'm probably being dumb here, but if Macs are Intels now, why can't you install OSX on any Intel machine? You can Unix and Linux right?
     
  5. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #5
    Yes, you can, but need some hacks.
     
  6. cohibadad macrumors 6502a

    cohibadad

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    #6
    can't really imagine a situation that would prompt Apple to license their OS. This isn't a war, it's a business and Apple is in the business of selling hardware to make money. They develop software to entice their own hardware sales. If they would license their OS so others could sell hardware, what would that trade-off be worth to Apple? and if you figure in loss to piracy which is impossible to prevent? figure in loss of brand appeal due to OS X running on crappy looking/running hardware? I don't think there is any reasonable price Apple could set for these trade-offs.
     
  7. iCeFuSiOn macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    If Apple started selling Mac OS X for 3rd party white-box PCs, you'd have an issue -- the reason why Mac OS X is so nice is because it ties in the with the hardware so well, if they were to sell the software separate they would lose that level of integration.
     
  8. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #8
    I certainly can. It is very easy to install Leopard on generic hardware right now. While it's still in the "geek realm" at the moment, in time it will become more prevalent and Apple will have to move either to "open" their OS, or strengthen the protection.
     
  9. chrisbeebops macrumors regular

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    #9
    Apple sells their products as a hardware+software package. The software is an incentive to buy hardware through Apple as opposed to a similar configuration for less money from another vendor. Apple gets much better profit margins on its hardware than its software.

    Also, in Windows, the biggest cause of instability is the fact that Windows has to support every possible hardware combination, and many drivers are poorly written. Because Apple only has to support a few, known configurations, it is much easier to create drivers.
     
  10. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    #10
    This is a very good question, one that gets raised a lot and one which I feel (no disrespect intended to the previous posters) has not been adequately answered.

    It is technically possible for Mac OS X to run on any x86 hardware, but their are a multitude reasons why Apple does not want this to be the case.

    I have outlined the reasons in full below, at the end of each paragraph I have written a summary in case you don't have time to read the whole thing (but you are welcome to if you choose).

    Apple makes practically all of its money on hardware, however their software adds immense value to their hardware. Because of this Apple views itself as a Software company. Think about this: Apple's hardware (internally) is almost identical to generic PC OEM boxes. What distinguishes them is the Mac software. If that distinguishing feature goes away, Apple will sell less hardware. Bearing in mind my opening statement, it becomes very easy to work out why this poses a problem.

    In Summary:
    [1] Whilst Apple makes money on hardware, without software, that hardware would not be as enticing proposition.

    Microsoft don't sell that many retail copies of Windows (relative to the amount they sell in total). Most are bundled and sold to PC OEMs very cheaply. That market is very hard to crack (hard (Microsoft have established relationships and partners, they can offer a very reasonable price, thanks to their economies of scale) On top of this their aren't huge margins in selling to OEMs (unless you sell a lot of copies).

    In Summary:
    [1] The Retail market isn't huge, but there are fairly decent margins.
    [2] The OEM market is bigger, way bigger, but there are only small pickings unless you say, supply every manufacturer in the world (like Microsoft). Market share is king.

    Microsoft would leverage their huge economies of scale to easily undercut Apple's OEM pricing. The PC manufacturers would then either not offer Mac OS X or offer it as a more expensive build-to-order option (passing the cost onto the customer). For many Windows is “good enough” and they wouldn't see any point paying more for Mac OS X (something unfamiliar to learn).

    In Summary:
    [1] MS wouldn't take kindly to competition (they never have) and would easily be able to undercut any newcomer to the OEM market on price.
    [2] If bundled by PC manufactures Mac OS X would look more expensive alongside Windows. This would have a detrimental effect on sales.

    Where Microsoft makes a lot of their money on Windows + Office is through their deals with business (though large user licences and support etc.). Another area is the server market. These are ares where Microsoft has existing accounts set up and harvesting money. Microsoft would fight tooth and nail to keep them. Again, another tough nut to crack. It is unlikely Apple would be able to compete on price and the cash outlay required to build up the same sort of relationships Microsoft have built up over the years would be vast. It may also ultimately be fruitless. Businesses are sometimes reticent to change from the familiar (for very good reason). For example, if a company switched from using Office to iWork Pro (or whatever), even if iWork Pro worked better, they would still have to retrain all their staff).

    In Summary:
    [1] Microsoft have many well established links with large corporations around the globe. To try and build up the same sort of relationships would take a lot of time, resources and money. It may ultimately prove fruitless.

    So whilst Apple could go down the licensing route, I hope I have painted a picture a lot more complex than many like to make out make out. Apple would have to charge about $200 for Mac OS X, at least. They simply couldn't just put out a $129 DVD for someone to put on their Dell. $129 represents the value of the upgrade (from the OS you brought when you got your computer), not the value of the full product. In other words the money made from selling hardware subsidise the development of the operating system, which in turn helps to sell more software.

    In Summary:
    [1] $129 is not the true cost of Mac OS X, this is the cost to upgrade to the next version. The cost of the whole version is included in the cost of your machine.

    Then Apple would have to include many of the anti-piracy measures that Microsoft imposes, unless they want to lose money hand over fist. By making everyone buy a Mac to get Mac OS X, Apple at least recoups some of the costs of software development, even if the user chooses to pirate a copy of the upgrade (like Leopard).

    If you are making not even a cent on the hardware, then you must ensure you make money on the software. This means doing all you can to prevent piracy and to achieve that you must make customers prove they have actually purchased your software. Rightly or wrongly, most consumers don't see value in software. More people would feel guilty about stealing MacBook Pro than pirating commercial software. Piracy of Windows is rampant in some countries. This hurts Microsoft now, but would hurt a smaller company like Apple even more.

    Apple would also have to ramp up AppleCare so the staff could support all sorts of curious hardware combinations and retrain all their Genius Bar and Apple Store support staff. All of this would cost.

    In Summary:
    [1] Other costs are involved in licensing. Apple would have to ensure customers weren't pirating (as Apple now has to make money from the software, not the hardware).
    [2] Apple would also have to retrain all staff in AppleCare and Retail to deal with non Mac hardware.

    Maybe one day, but at present I think would be a total disaster for the company from a financial perspective. Maybe Apple could make it work, but they would need Microsoft's position to weaken first. At the moment Microsoft have so much of a stranglehold on the market it is foolish trying. Whilst you can argue over the merits of Mac OS X vs Linux all you like (personally I think Mac OS X in more consumer friendly) the various Linux distros still haven't really penetrated the desktop space, even though they are given away for free.

    In Summary:
    [1] Giving away an operating system has not weakened Microsoft's stranglehold on the desktop market, so it is unlikely charging more for one will.
    [2] Never say never, Apple may try again one day, but not yet whilst Microsoft has such a dominant position in the market.
     
  11. JSchwage macrumors 6502a

    JSchwage

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    #11
    No. Apple is a hardware as well as software company. Unless Apple decides they want to be more of a software company, I don't see why they would even think of licensing OS X. The great thing about Macs is that they are "known" machines, which makes developing software for Macs much easier since there's a much smaller diversity of hardware.
     
  12. skyrider007 thread starter macrumors 65816

    skyrider007

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    #12
    Thank you very much for your comprehensive and thoughtful answer! I must agree with you on everything that you've said. Licensing OS X isn't really part of Apple's current business model and I hope it remains the same. I also think that the market for standalone OS X is not significant enough.

    More importantly, OX X will lose its elegance and exclusivity if it operates inside a non-Apple designed enclosure.
     
  13. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #13
    close-ness is never a good thing, Its prime time for OSX to expand now. Hardware bundle will only hold it back. Waiting until OSX's advantages (mainly being eye candy if you ask me) got lost is a bad idea.
     
  14. dlethe macrumors newbie

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    #14
    I agree with elppa, that Apple won't license other hardware to run OS X, but for technical reasons he did not mention.

    I come from the perspective of somebody who has designed hardware, firmware, drivers, and application software for dozens of operating systems and hardware platforms, including OS X on both PowerPC and X64 architecutes.

    Frankly, never in a million years will Apple allow clones to come to market (again ... this dates me)

    Reason is that apple will lose 100% control of the hardware. OS X is stable because Apple has full control of every DMA address, every pin, every interrupt, clock cycles that all components take to do their job, down to the amount noise a half-penny chipcap adds to the mix. This is why you don't have driver issues, blue screens of death, and there aren't rows and rows of books on troubleshooting macs and dozens of vendors making mac-compatible motherboard diagnostic tools.

    The hardware works because there are no unknowns. Change the hardware, and then you intruduce unknowns that threaten the stellar end-user experience.

    Software developers have the luxury (and unfortunately the rigid constraints) of knowing that if they play by the rules then their code will work and be easy to migrate. If Apple opens the doors to clone hardware, then software vendors for products that push the capabilities of the hardware will be enticed to obtain clone hardware. The vendors will have higher support costs, so that a small numbe of bargain-basement customers can arguably save a few dollars on the hardware. The software vendor will now also have to either spend R&D dollars to support cheapskate customers who will never be bread-and-butter long-term repeat customers. I can't imagine if there could ever be a ROI for doing this. As such, the software vendors of the really sexy applications won't make the effort to do the port.

    So that means you'll be left with standard applications that pretty much work on everything the same way, ones that stick to standard APIs, OpenGL, POSIX, etc. Such applications treat hardware as a commodity. They are hardware agnostic with minor exceptions when it comes to tuning.

    So, there you have it. It commoditizes the hardware; makes it more expensive and impractical for vendors of sexy graphics software to port their code; makes the hardware unstable; increases Apple R&D & support requirements;

    had enough? Let this issue die. It just isn't going to happen. There is no up side for Apple, their partners, or many of the software developers. Short-sighted people will think they could save a few dollars on hardware, because they have no appreciation of the support costs for everybody involved.
     
  15. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

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    #15
    it will happen, its all business, when apple feels software alone can bring in more $$$ than hardwares, it will release it.

    Its only a problem of time. If apple want to wait until hackintosh become super easy. ... wait and see...
     
  16. sushi Moderator emeritus

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    #16
    Apple makes it's money on the sales of hardware.

    Mac OS X and other Apple software is there to enhance and sell their hardware.

    Apple got burnt when they licensed OS 9 to clone makers. They will not make that mistake again.

    Unless their business model changes, I doubt we will ever see Apple licensing their OS to other makers.
     
  17. cohibadad macrumors 6502a

    cohibadad

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    #17
    hmmm. by my calculations, that would be....carry the 4, divide by 7.....aha, just as I thought. never.
     
  18. scaredpoet macrumors 604

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    #18
    Actually, you don't have to wait. Apple did try opening the market to clones, and the experiment was a failure. Apple nearly lost their shirt doing that.
     
  19. Alloye macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    No

    1. Apple sells an experience, which they create by controlling the synergy between their hardware and software.

    2. The last time Apple licensed its OS, they were nearly driven out of business.
     
  20. Hankster macrumors 68020

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    #20
    As much as I enjoy my MacBook, I don't feel this system will go in that direction and succeed. There's a reason PCs are in the majority of corporate America. Personally, I think if Apple went too large anyway it would lose its "edge".
     
  21. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #21
    good thing we dont rel on your calculations huh lol

    if apple views it to be a profitable return moreso than the current business model then yes they will do it. its a business and the goal is to make the most profit...
     
  22. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #22
    I can't imagine why they would...their current plan is working great.


    Maybe they'd do it as a hail mary, like in 1997, were it would either save them or kill them(if give enough time, in 1997 Jobs stopped it)..but I doubt Apple would ever be in that stop while they still used OS X
     
  23. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #23
    Well kind of, it start to drive them out, but they had a decent amount of cash saved up.
    Had they let things go unchecked, I'd agree Apple would have died
     

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