open computer mac I don’t know whether this was exactly a smart move, but Psystar has begun selling a PC dubbed the Open Computer. It rolls in at a budget-priced $399, but what really makes it unique is that fact that you can have Leopard preinstalled on it for an additional $155. So for about $550 you can get a PC with decent specs that also runs Mac OS X Leopard. They’re claiming that you can “run Mac Pro equivalent hardware at Mac Mini prices.”

There is also the OpenPro Computer that comes in with much higher specs and a $999 price tag, but how are they able to offer computers with Mac OS X Leopard? Interestingly enough Psystar has decided to ignore Apple’s EULA and install the operating system on non-Apple hardware. Their website says that they are able to do this using an EFI emulator:

With the EFI V8 emulator it is possible to install Leopard’s kernel straight from the DVD that you purchased at the Apple store barring the addition of a few drivers to ensure that everything boots and runs smoothly.

They aren’t stopping there either. InformationWeek posted an article today stating that Psystar is calling out Apple as being a monopoly. They say that it would be similar to Microsoft only allowing Dell to install Windows on their computers, or Honda telling you what roads you can drive on with your car. I’m all about Apple letting third-party vendors create Leopard-compatible PC’s, but are those comparisons really accurate?

In the end Apple’s computers are really just consumer devices with an operating system, and are people going to force Apple to offer the iPod/iPhone OS for other devices as well? You might be thinking that Mac OS X is different since Apple sells it separately from the computers, but what if they didn’t? They are really only offering the OS separately so that existing Mac users can easily (and cheaply) upgrade without having to purchase a new computer. Don’t give Apple a reason to stop selling standalone copies of OS X.

I would love to see Mac OS X running on nearly any PC, but I think Apple has found value in selling computers that they can ensure work flawlessly with their operating system. This will definitely be a story to follow, and I wonder whether Psystar will be able to hold their own against Apple’s big-shot lawyers?