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The Palm Pre will be the first non-Apple phone to feature firmware-supported syncing with iTunes. The great mystery is whether Apple will try to sue Palm to block this feature.  (Source: Apple 2.0)
New smart phone will be first non-Apple phone to sync nicely with iTunes, but will Apple ruin the party?

For iPod users on the fence over whether to jump on the iPhone bandwagon or try the new Palm Pre, the iPhone's first multi-touch competitor, they may just have gotten a bit of an incentive to choose the latter.  It has been revealed that the Palm Pre will sync perfectly with iTunes, allowing customers with iPods to transfer their music files without hassle or third-party utilities.

The surprise scoop was discovered and confirmed by the many reviewers who received and have been testing early Pre handsets.  However, the news actually leaked in January from a Palm employee -- but no one followed up, as it was likely dismissed as a wild rumor.

ITunes treats the Pre just like an iPod or iPhone, except it can't get iPhone apps and it can't use old copy-protected songs (Apple recently dropped copy protection).  Previously, users could sync iTunes with smart phones like the Palm Treo and 700p, but only via a third-party application.  This time the phone's firmware comes sync-ready.

Palm is full of ex-Apple engineers, including Palm president Jon Rubinstein, who built the original iPod for Steve Jobs so this bit of news is not totally surprising.

The one uncertainty is whether Apple will block Palm's encroachment on its iTunes software.  Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook has hinted in the past that Apple may seek legal action against Palm for possible violations of its mobile devices multi-touch patent.  Palm, however, has expressed little concern over lawsuits from Apple.  It is confident that it will win any such battles, and that Apple will lose in negative publicity as well.



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Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By HighWing on 5/29/2009 12:15:40 PM , Rating: 5
If apple were to do anything about this I wonder if it would raise the possibility of a monopoly suit against apple for iTunes?
You can't argue that iTunes is not the largest online retailer of music, yet they still only sync with iPods. IMHO I've been wondering how much longer they will get away with that if they keep getting bigger. I'm sure if the table was turned and this was Microsoft's store and it only worked with Zunes, people would be crying monopoly real fast. So why is apple immune to it?




RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 12:25:53 PM , Rating: 3
Because Apple is immune to everything.

In all seriousness though, Apple is providing a service meant to go hand-in-hand with one of it's products, so I don't see a problem with the fact that it only works with Apple products. They make no claim to the idea that it would work with anything else, and in fact I'm sure they make it quite clear that it won't work with anything else.

I've never understood the Apple hivemind anyway, but in this case I don't think there's any reason to complain at Apple for providing a service that only works with Apple products. There's any number of alternative sources for music that work with every .mp3 player in the world.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Inkjammer on 5/29/2009 12:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
And Apple allows other formats to be used for its software/players, too (e.g. mp3. m4a) so it doesn't lock out competing formats, just competing DRM formats. So I think that exonerates them in some degrees as well.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By emergnsee on 5/29/2009 1:20:37 PM , Rating: 2
Entirely agree.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 1:48:22 PM , Rating: 2
They don't need to be exonerated from anything.

Synching with iPods only works with, um, iPods.

What's to exonerate?


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Natfly on 5/29/2009 1:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In all seriousness though, Apple is providing a service meant to go hand-in-hand with one of it's products, so I don't see a problem with the fact that it only works with Apple products.


And that's fine, but when they actively go out our their way to make things not work it is anti-competitive. For example in linux, Amarok used to be able to sync with iPods, but Apple released a new firmware that deliberately caused third party programs to no longer be able to sync.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 2:55:16 PM , Rating: 3
...is it anti-competitive that the power cord for your Wii doesn't work with your PS3?

This has nothing to do with being anti-competitive. I don't believe that Apple has released any specification for anyone to create synching applications to iTunes anyway - which means that Palm (or whoever) figured it out on their own. The iTunes synching with iPods is a feature created to benefit owners of iPods...just the same way that Windows Update only works with Windows. Is it anti-competitive that Windows Update won't update your Mac? Or your microwave?

Besides, as noted, there are lots of alternate places to buy music online. It's not anything even close to a monopoly position.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By omnicronx on 5/29/2009 3:10:07 PM , Rating: 1
I think it could be considered anti competitive in this case. Apple DOES hold a large majority of sales in the mp3 market, something ridiculous like 80%. This is not the same as Apple blocking third party hardware from using iTunes as it is a closed piece of software specifically designed for one piece of hardware.

Of course proving this is a completely different manner. Amarok is a free piece of software, its not like they have the resources to take on Apple. Other hacks also still exist, so it would be hard to prove that Apple specifically meant to block this software in the first place. Kind of reminds of bricked unlocked iPhones after an Apple update.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 3:25:15 PM , Rating: 2
You make my head hurt.

Could you please explain how it could possibly, in any universe, be considered anti-competitive for the Apple Synch function to not work with any service other than iTunes, and any device other than iPods?

It is an Apple-specific service, and has never been positioned as otherwise. Apple did not expose this function for others to develop on - what Palm did is essentially a hack. Apple doesn't owe Palm anything...and if any change made to the Synch function causes the Pre to not be able to use that function anymore, whether intentional or inadvertant, Palm has not the slightest cause to complain, since they had no such privelege as to be doing so in the first place.

Not being able to use Synch doesn't preclude you from buying music from iTunes and using it on something other than an iPod.

Is it, in fact, anti-competitive that Windows Update won't work with any OS other than Windows? Is it anti-competitive that Wells Fargo's online banking features won't work with Bank of America accounts? Is it anti-competitive that Facebook won't allow you to update your MySpace account with their interface? Should eBay allow you to use their service to place ads on Craigslist? You know, the MSI motherboard I just bought came with a utility that will automatically download and update the BIOS...but only on an MSI motherboard, not an Asus motherboard. Reckon I should sue MSI for anti-competitive behavior?


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Natfly on 5/29/2009 3:11:26 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
...is it anti-competitive that the power cord for your Wii doesn't work with your PS3?


Whoosh....you missed my point entirely... It has everything to do with being anti-competitive.

Apple produces these two standalone products, iTunes and iPods. A third party creates an iTunes similar program to put music onto iPods. Apple doesn't like users not using iTunes, therefor they release a new firmware for iPods to purposefully disable third party software. Not for feature enhancement, not to better their product, but for the sole purpose of cutting potential competitors out.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 3:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think you wooshed too hard...

The article says nothing about "A third party creates an iTunes similar program to put music onto iPods."

That is categorically not what is being discussed here. Palm did not create something like iTunes to put music onto iPods.

Palm reverse-engineered the "Synch" function, which is an Apple-specific function to synchronize an iPod with your iTunes account.

This function is not necessary to use iTunes. It is also not a function that Apple exposed to other developers, nor is it functionality that anyone has any right to expect iTunes to do for a non-Apple device.

Whether or not Apple adjusts their Synch function to recognize that a non-Apple device is attempting to use it, and then disable it, is up to them. And it is categorically not an anti-competitive move if they choose to do so, anymore so than it would be that the online banking features that Wells Fargo has won't let you work with your Bank of America accounts.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Natfly on 5/29/2009 3:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think you wooshed too hard... The article says nothing about "A third party creates an iTunes similar program to put music onto iPods."


I was referring to the example I stated, and to which you replied.

quote:
Whether or not Apple adjusts their Synch function to recognize that a non-Apple device is attempting to use it, and then disable it, is up to them. And it is categorically not an anti-competitive move if they choose to do so


Normally you are right, but when you become a monopoly (not in itself illegal), the rules change and doing things like that can be considered anti-competitive, monopolistic practices, etc.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 3:47:58 PM , Rating: 2
OK, let's do a quick Google (or Bing if you like) and see how many places we can buy .mp3s from.

Answer: lots. DRM-free too. And when I buy a DRM-free .mp3 from <anyplace> I can use it on any .mp3 player I want to, without hindrance, and all such .mp3s are the same.

Hence, it is a physical impossibility for iTunes to be considered a monopoly.

Pointing out that <whatever>% of the market's revenue is made by iTunes does not signify that it is a monopoly. It signifies that it is very popular. It's not a monopoly, and can't possibly be a monopoly, because there are plenty of other places to buy .mp3s from, and an .mp3 bought anywhere works just the same on any device you want to use it on.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By omnicronx on 6/1/2009 9:36:21 AM , Rating: 2
You keep bringing this off topic..(same as with my reply) This argument has nothing to do with where you buy MP3's/DRM etc etc., but Apple releasing firmware that does notthing else but stop other software from syncing with the iPod.

His monopoly comment was about mp3 sales not itunes. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

If Microsoft has 'monopoly status' with 85%+ marketshare, then why can't Apple in the mp3 market?

Just last year they had 90% marketshare in the hardrive based mp3 market and 70% of the entire market. Should Apple ever reach 80% they could surely be considered a monopoly and as such they would not be able to use the same practices as today.

In other word if Apple had enough share, you can easily make the case that Apple is using the mp3 market dominance to force people to use iTunes. This is no different than MS using its market dominance to 'force' people to use I.E, or when they tried to 'force' users to use Office when they tried to integrate it into Windows. Unfortunately will success comes the rules to limit your success, and Apple is not free from these rules.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 6/1/2009 10:09:12 AM , Rating: 1
Off-topic? What topic do you think we're talking about here? Oh, I see from your reply, you fundamentally missed what the point of the article is. Let me help:

quote:
This argument has nothing to do with where you buy MP3's/DRM etc etc., but Apple releasing firmware that does notthing else but stop other software from syncing with the iPod.


No, no it doesn't. There is nothing in this article that hints at anything Apple is doing to "stop other software from synching with the iPod." That notion appears nowhere in the article. So I have to wonder how you got that idea in your head.

So what is the actual point of the article? Let's see - Palm has apparently hacked the iTunes Synch function to make iTunes think that a Palm Pre is an iPod, and therefore trick the Synch function into Synching your Pre with iTunes like it would with an iPod.

That doesn't have the slightest thing to do with "stopping other sofware from synching with the iPod."

What it does have to do with is that Palm has hacked their way into an Apple-specific service. Key word: hacked. It's a HACK. It's not authorized by Apple, they didn't publish any API or SDK for it, they never said, suggested, or even hinted that the Synch function would work with anything other than Apple hardware.

It is EXACTLY the same as the examples I gave earlier. It is not in any way different from, or more "anti-competitive" than Windows Update (which only works with Windows) or the Wells Fargo online banking service (which won't work with your Bank of America accounts) or the fact that eBay's service can't be used to list items on craigslist. There is NO DIFFERENCE. It is absolutely moronic to insist that an Apple-specific function "must" somehow magically work with non-Apple hardware. That makes no more sense than insisting that Windows Update "must" somehow magically be able to update a Linux system.

If you want to have the Zune interface in your car, you buy the Ford that has that interface. You don't get to buy a Hyundai and then complain that it doesn't have a Zune interface. It's a feature of a specific car, period, end of story.

Also, there is no possible way in any universe that iTunes can be considered a monopoly of anything. There are MANY sites where you can buy .mp3s. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME. There is NO DIFFERENCE between an .mp3 bought on iTunes or an .mp3 bought from Amazon, or wherever else. They ALL work with ANY music player WITHOUT PENALTY. By definition, the .mp3 is a pure commodity, without any differentiation based on where you bought it.

This categorically does not have any relationship whatsoever to MS Windows' marketshare and resulting monopoly - that is a monopoly because you don't realistically have other valid OS options for all the reasons why MS has been declared a monopolist. .mp3s are ubiquitous and undifferentiated. NO RELATION.

Not being able to use the Synch function, which has been from the start an Apple-only function, makes no difference to your ability to buy an .mp3 from iTunes and use it on your Palm or Zune or whatever. MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.

And in any event, the fact of the matter is that it is an Apple-only function. Which makes it mind-blowing that you think there is any possible foundation for a complaint. X-Box Live only works with X-Boxes. Please explain to me what basis a PS3 owner could possibly have for not being able to use X-Box Live. Or, please explain why X-Box Live isn't a perfect analog to the Apple Synch function. Or, explain why any of the other examples I gave aren't an analog.

Also, please explain how % marketshare in the .mp3 market can lead to any kind of monopoly. Please demonstrate how you cannot get the exact same .mp3 from someplace else and use it without detriment. In effect, educate us on how the .mp3 is not a pure commodity that can be purchased anywhere without differentiation.

Holy crap people. You aren't entitled to demand that Apple do whatever the $#%^ you want it to do. You aren't entitled to demand that an Apple-specific function should work with non-Apple hardware anymore than you're entitled to demand that Windows Update should work with non-Windows OSs. YOU'RE NOT ENTITLED. Get the $#^@ over it.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By LRonaldHubbs on 6/2/2009 2:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
+10 Well said.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Inkjammer on 5/29/2009 12:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
Much for the same reason Apple can away with creating commercials that tear down Microsoft. Apple's not #1, and people really only focus in on the majority leader. It's like Microsoft getting in trouble for including IE8 with Windows 7 by the EU, yet nobody cares if Apple includes Safari. When you're the big dog people hold you to different standards. Granted, Apple is the big dog in the music industry right now, but when people discuss Apple, they're viewed as a "computer" company verse an "entertainment" company.

Apple's not immune, they're just too small in the scheme of things for people to care (even if Apple's stock prices are six times more valuable than Microsoft's).


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 12:40:06 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
(even if Apple's stock prices are six times more valuable than Microsoft's).


...surely you are aware that a stock price is, in and of itself, a worthless piece of information? Only the market capitalization is an important number, which is effectively share price * number of outstanding shares. Hence, Microsoft's market value is immensely larger than Apple's.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Mojo the Monkey on 5/29/2009 12:44:45 PM , Rating: 3
unfortunately in a demand and hope based market pricing model, the stock price disconnects from the market value and you get what we have today... a vegas-style betting system.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By biggsjm on 5/29/2009 2:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
Um, Apple's market cap is 120B and Microsoft's is 180B. Not "immensely larger" as you described.

As for an iTunes Monopoly? First you must define the market, then define Apple's control of that market, and then, even if they have a monopoly, you must determine if that monopoly is criminally anti-competitive.

I'd wager that its not. The Linux aspect could be argued, but its a weak argument. Choosing not to support a market isn't really a great way to argue that they are using their monopoly in anti-competitive ways. As for the device syncing . . .as long as Apple doesn't restrict the video and music from being used with other players (note that DRM isn't apple's restriction, its the copyright holders') I don't see how you could make that case. Apple's not preventing some third party to come in and utilize drm-free music or other content stored on the machine.

It sucks, I know, but they walk the line very well.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By Motoman on 5/29/2009 2:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had so much money as to not think of $60 billion as an "immense" amount.

Anyway, your wager that Apple's iTunes is not a monopoly is a pretty safe one. With the standardization of the .mp3 format, it would pretty much be impossible for anyone to gain a monopoly position anyway.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By smackababy on 5/29/2009 3:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
First, your numbers suggest that Apple is two thirds that of MS. That is immensely larger, at least by my definition.

Secondly, as for as marketshare, iTunes more than likely dominates. And the DRM is in Apple's control. They can chose to not have it, and the labels wouldn't be able to fight. Either they let iTunes sell their music in the millions, or they lose sales. Simple as that. Plus, I know the old iTunes DRM didn't allow any other player or application to use it. I had to burn ablums I purchased to a CD then rip them just to be able to stream them to my Xbox. I would be so bold as to call Apple anti-competitive.


By Mojo the Monkey on 6/3/2009 1:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
You're missing it completely.

Apple has ~892 million shares at that price. (.892 billion)

Microsoft has 8.9 BILLION shares at that price.

Go do the math. Share price does not equal how "large" a company is. You have to look at how many shares are floating around.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By MonkeyPaw on 5/29/2009 12:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If apple were to do anything about this I wonder if it would raise the possibility of a monopoly suit against apple for iTunes?


Well, unfortunately, Apple could always argue that since they now sell DRM-free music, the songs available on iTunes are fully transferable to any music player. They will just say that iTunes syncs are for Apple devices only (I can think of other better media players anyway). The next Zune is to have some good Xbox360 integration, but it remains to be seen if non-MS music players could do the same thing, as they might not have known such integration was possible.


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By smackababy on 5/29/2009 1:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
MS released a download to allow iPods that connect to Apple computers (not Windows formatted ones) to connect via USB to the Xbox360 to play supported audio/video and also released a download for addition codec support. So, yes, they work with other players to an extent. The Zune will work with other aspects even more I'd say, but the Xbox360 isn't some free software that has a virtual monopoly the digital download services.

As far as the Pre goes, I couldn't care less about it working with iTunes. I find that program to be terrible. I don't purchase music at all anymore (not because of pirating, but simply because I don't listen to any newly released music).


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By foolsgambit11 on 5/29/2009 3:03:29 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
So why is apple immune to it?
Because an Apple a day keeps the regulators away?


RE: Apple iTunes Monopoly??
By gstrickler on 6/1/2009 2:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
As long as Palm isn't violating any of Apple's patents or copyrights to sync with iTunes, Apple should (whether or not they will is another question) leave it alone. Yes, the Pre may steal a few iPhone sales because it can easily Sync with iTunes, but it'll be very few. Apple will reclaim some of the lost revenue in music sales from the iTunes store.


"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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