Apple has ruined a US startup's plan to give away thousands of iMac computers.
The startup, called Freemac.com, said last summer that it would give away 10,000 iMacs to consumers that signed an ISP and credit card contract that it had pre-selected.
The 10,000 iMacs were just the beginning of what Freemac described as a "million Mac giveaway" over the next two years.
However, Apple has refused to allow Freemac to buy any iMacs. The company is very protective of its successful iMac consumer PC and has sued other firms that have developed computers with a similar design.
In a letter sent today to consumers hoping to snap up a free iMac, Freemac chief executive and founder Jonathan Strum said that the company had planned to buy iMacs from Apple at wholesale prices. However, "Apple had a change of heart", he said, adding that he was surprised at Apple's decision, but not discouraged.
"We advised Apple that we would be still willing to acquire iMacs by paying full retail price, and Apple still said no. They did more than say no, they prohibited their major retail accounts from selling us iMacs - even at regular prices," he added.
Strum said that Apple had left him no choice but to relaunch his company and change strategy.
Strum's new venture, called NadaPC.com, will give away free Internet appliances using a similar deal to the ill-fated iMac scheme. The company will be launched in about 10 days.
The type of device has yet to be decided on, but could be supplied by Acer or Intel, according to sources.
Apple was unavailable for comment.
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