It seems like it was only last week that Mac clone maker, Psystar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Oh, that WAS last week. Surely, this would be the end of US companies trying to unauthorized Mac clones, right? Right?
Come on, this is America -- that would be too easy. In fact, it took just three days for the next would-be Mac clone retailer to appear.
As CNET reported over the weekend, Quo Computer plans to sell its Mac clone offerings both online and in a retail store in Los Angeles. The retail store was set to open yesterday, June 1, 2009, but I was unable to locate a phone number for the store (and LA's directory assistance didn't have a listing).
The website, though currently just a splash page, will apparently be ready sometime later this week. Apparently three models with OS X Leopard pre-installed will be offered, with pricing set to start below $900.
According to CNET, Quo's founder, Rashantha De Silva, expects that Apple will sue Quo, just as they sued Psystar. Well, at least he isn't completely delusional. More below...
De Silva spouted off some typical blather about how Quo is "different" from the other cloners out there, but really, this just looks like Psystar, or PearC, only with the added brashness (or stupidity, your choice) to also try a retail store.
Here's what I don't understand: how do these business owners think they can actually make any money? Ignoring all of the blatant legal problems for a second, how can this possibly be a sustainable business? Selling OEM PCs is a very, very difficult market for small businesses to compete in. For even big players like HP and Dell, there is very little margin in low to mid-range consumer hardware.
Small systems builders can't compete on price with the big guys, because they can't buy components at the same rates. In addition, the price of each Mac clone automatically increases $130, just so you can install OS X Leopard on it. Unless you then want to mark up the sticker price to try to retain some profit -- and keep in mind, that goes against a clone's biggest selling point, price -- how is this sustainable?
And that's before even adding in costs like support, labor and taxes. Add a retail operations budget and leasing space to that equation and the situation gets even less optimistic.
At this rate, Quo might be out of business before Apple even sends out its attack dogs.
Although a sadistic part of me would like to see a legal battle ensue (and in California, no less), I think the windows will be boarded up far before then.
Hey, if you live in LA and want to stop by 2401 West Main Street, Alhambra, California, let us know if these guys are actually open for business!