Suspicions soar about Mac clone maker Psystar

The company that claims it's selling Mac clones is located at a Miami address occupied by a tee-shirt maker that Wednesday said there is no computer maker in its building, raising suspicions about the legitimacy of PsyStar Corp.

Also on Wednesday, the telephone number for PsyStar was disconnected.

Charles Arthur, a technology blogger who writes for the U.K.-based Guardian , first noted some discrepancies in the information posted by PsyStar on its site, including the fact that the company had changed the address it listed online. Earlier yesterday, said Arthur, the company had posted its locale as 10645 SW 112 St. in Miami, which according to references such as Google Maps, is in a residential district. Later in the day, the address was changed to 10481 NW 28th St., also in Miami.

The new location is a commercial building that's occupied by CottomImages.com, which bills itself as "one of the largest screen-printing, embroidery and now garment-dye companies in the nation."

A man who answered the phone at CottonImages said there were two other businesses at the 10481 NW 28th St. address, but PsyStar, or any other computer company, is not among them. "I don't know how they got this address," said the spokesman, who declined to give his name.

After a brief hold, he returned and said he had been told to refer all questions about PsyStar to the same e-mail address the Mac clone maker has been handing out. The spokesman flatly denied any link between CottonImages and PsyStar.

In addition, PsyStar's e-store is now offline, according to a notice posted on the firm's still-live Web site. "Thank you for visiting PsyStar. We're sorry but the store is temporarily down due to the fact that we are currently unable to process any credit card transactions. If you have received a confirmation e-mail with your order's details then your order has been processed and your item is in queue to be built," the notice continued.

PsyStar does not do telephone sales, so without its Web store, it is not currently taking orders for the Mac clones it's touted since Monday.

PsyStar has not responded to repeated requests for comment and other information. In a phone call today, a woman who answered the company's toll-free line referred all questions to an e-mail address, and said "I'm only answering the phones." Shortly after that, calls to the company's toll number were greeted by a recording that said "You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service."

The company's toll-free number, however, was working as of 1:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

PsyStar has been the focus of attention by Mac enthusiasts since Monday, when it announced it would begin selling clones of the Apple Inc. hardware capable of running Mac OS X. With prices starting at US$399 -- and a promise to pre-install Apple's Leopard OS for another $155 -- the company's wares caught the eye of budget-minded users.

Previously, the Miami company had said it would contest Apple's software license -- the end-user licensing agreement, or EULA -- that forbids installation of Leopard on any non-Apple hardware.

Apple has not responded to a request made Monday for comment on PsyStar or answered questions about whether it plans to enforce its EULA.

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