SYDNEY - Motorola Computer Group has announced that it will no longer sell its StarMax range of computers running Apple's Mac OS. The announcement comes after months of negotiations between Apple and its licensees to revise the Mac OS licences. The most prominent manufacturer of Mac clones, Power Computing, was recently purchased by Apple for $US100 million.
Apple has tried to renegotiate the terms of Mac OS licences because it feels that the cost to the company in terms of sales, market position and stability is greater than the benefit of having clones in the market. These negotiations have largely failed, leaving the licensees in disarray. Only Umax Computer of Taiwan has successfully negotiated licensing terms for Mac OS 8, the latest version of Apple's operating system.
Motorola manufactures the PowerPC processors in all of Apple's current computers (and its licensees'), and is part of an alliance with Apple and IBM to jointly develop and manufacture the processors for a range of purposes from servers to hand-held PCs. It has said it will continue as part of that alliance.
Motorola's withdrawal from Mac licensing, less than one year after its first StarMaxes were sold, casts a pall over the future of any licensing strategy that Apple may wish to implement, in particular relating to Rhapsody, its next- generation operating system due next year.
Motorola is writing off $US95 million in costs related to its Mac cloning business.
Van Rafael, of Motorola Computer Group, said: "The model we were left with by Apple to distribute our current designs with Mac OS 7.6 was simply not viable. We couldn't build a business that way."
However, with regard to future licensing of Rhapsody, "If Apple came to us with a licensing proposal that benefited us and allowed us to build a viable business, that they were also happy with, we might get involved again."
Motorola will continue to sell StarMax Mac clones until 31 December.
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