Biggest Mac cloner suffers major setbacks

The latest defeat at the hands of Apple's OS licensing is Joel Kocher, president and chief operating officer of Power Computing, who left the company yesterday. Apple has pulled an abrupt about-face in recent weeks, and apparently decided that all of the Macintosh clone makers (Motorola, Power Computing, UMAX, etc.) are not helping the Apple cause but rather are "leeches" feeding off of the mothership. In its attempt to raise licensing costs, Apple has received a lot of hard feelings from the clone makers, who'd like to see the Mac market diversify like the PC market did when it was created in 1983. Apple, for its part, is trying to raise licensing fees dramatically and force clone makers to sell machines that don't compete with their own.

In fact, Apple decided to play hardball this week when it announced to clone makers that it would not certify clones based on the Common Hardware Reference Protocol (CHRP), a hardware reference platform originally designed to make it easier for companies to build Mac clones. Using CHRP as a guideline, companies could create hardware that was guaranteed to work with the MacOS.  In a recent filing with the SEC, Apple indicated that it is considering ending its licensing arrangement with the cloners.

"The benefits to the company from licensing the Mac OS to third parties may be more than offset by the disadvantages of competing with them. \[Apple\] is currently in discussions concerning the nature of such licensing arrangements going forward, including whether or not to extend such arrangements," the filing says. To this date, Apple has refused to license MacOS 8 to the cloners.

The ramifications of the Apple licensing problem are far reaching. Kocher, one of the most vocal opponents of Apple's plan, left his company because of "irreconcilable differences with Power Computing management in the way in which to move forward on the Apple licensing issue," he said. This isn't the first time Power Computing felt the hot hand of Apple: earlier this month, the company halted a planned expansion because of Apple's indecision on the licensing issue. Power Computing apparently saw the end coming when they filed for an IPO and announced their intention to move into PC clone making. Founder and CEO Stephen Kahng will take over the day-to-day operations of Power Computing until a replacement can be found.

Basically, it looks like Apple is about to put an end to clone licensing and shoot itself right in the foot. After all the hoopla of MacWorld, all this proves is that Apple hasn't learned a single thing

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