A friend of mine recently installed OS X on a XP loaded netbook, and his initial reports are enthusiastically positive. The machine is fast, video chat on iChat works like a charm, screen sharing is no big deal, and as far as he can tell, he’s basically running a Macintosh machine. And all for under $350 bucks!
While talking to said friend about his new machine, we got to talking about Apple’s position regarding netbooks and what Apple might have to gain or lose by coming out with their own version of a netbook. Pretty cool night, huh? Anyways, an interesting point he raised was that Apple needs to be especially cautious with the growing abundance of hackintosh netbooks because it may serve as a gateway hack of sorts. In other words, the more commonplace it becomes to put copies of OS X on PC machines, the more likely it’ll become that the average consumer will start looking at a hackintosh as a legitimate option when purchasing a computer. From there, it only becomes a matter of time before consumers start smoking crack, uh…, I mean start putting OS X on all sorts of PC machines.
In the past, putting OS X on non-Apple hardware was reserved for the type of people who actually enjoyed getting their hands dirty with technical jargon that would leave most laypeople utterly confused. While setting up a hackintosh is still not easy in the mainstream sense of the word, the process has gotten considerably easier over the past few years. Now, you can easily set up a hackintosh machine in well under an hour, via simple instructions that can be found all over the web.
As the number of people who opt to put OS X on cheap PC netbooks continues to grow, we soon might see an increase in the number of people who try to put OS X onto more expensive PC desktops and regular sized laptops. This could theoretically eat into MacBook and iMac sales, and this is why Apple needs to start paying attention to the growing netbook market. Steve Jobs recently called netbooks a ‘nascent category’, but their growing popularity can’t be ignored for much longer. A few nerds putting OS X on a random PC for shits and giggles isn’t anything to worry about. But a contingent of consumers who purchase PC’s solely with the intent of putting Apple’s OS on it is something Apple needs to be keenly aware of and concerned with. While we aren’t at that point yet, the proliferation of hackintosh netbooks might suggest that it’s not too far off into the future either.
What do you guys think? Are hackintosh netbooks really the technological equivalent of Marijuana, or are we just blowing smoke? Hit us up in the comments and let us know!