The biggest consequence of this is, obviously, that anyone who wants to roll their own netbook running OS X is going to have to stick to either 10.5 or 10.6.1 – or, for the hardcore, hack future versions of OS X to run a stock 10.0 kernel.
Of course, Apple is under no obligation at all to support hardware it doesn’t use. But some will undoubtedly take this as a sign that Apple wants to kill off the Hackintosh community.
I don’t buy that, for a couple of reasons. First, the netbook market is probably the one which Apple has the least actual interest in. When someone runs OS X on a £300 netbook, they’re not doing it to replace a potential Mac purchase. Lost revenue to Apple from netbooks is probably as close to a rounding error as you can get.
Second, no sane company would tinker with the kernel of its operating system just to disable something of no commercial consequence. It’s one thing playing around with iTunes to stop the Palm Pre syncing. It’s quite another to mess around with code which you absolutely, 100%, need to be reliable.
It is, however, a shame.
UPDATE: Well, it looks like support for Atom is back. Which rather puts the kibosh on the conspiracy theories, I think.
UPDATE 2: And it seems like it’s definitely out again. Oh well.