Print 81 comment(s) - last by themaster08.. on Jul 17 at 6:02 PM

Apple has killed the Palm Pre's ability to sync with iTunes in cold blood, with its latest software update.

Don't install this iTunes update if you own a Palm Pre -- it will kill the phone's ability to easily sync with your library.  (Source: CNET)
Leave it to Apple to rain on everyone's parade

Apple doesn't take kindly to would-be usurpers to its status of the highest tech (and bestselling) smart phone on the market.  It has threatened to take legal action against those who violate its mobile multi-touch patent that it was awarded.

Now it has taken action to try to kill the potential of the Palm Pre before it gains significant market share.  One of the key features of the Pre was its ability to sync effortlessly with iTunes, via firmware support.  As the majority of MP3 players on the market are iPods and most people have their music libraries on iTunes, this was an attractive feature as it made for a painless import of your music library.

However, Apple will not let the threat to its smart phone empire stand and true to its word has rolled out an iTunes update that kills the feature -- iTunes 8.2.1.  The release notes describe, "iTunes 8.2.1 provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices."

Sure enough, the update kills the Palm Pre's iTunes syncing via the Media Sync option.  Unfortunately for Apple, though, the update can't lock out doubleTwist and The Missing Sync, and other applications which offer similar syncing for smart phones.  Palm is actively advertising these apps as work arounds.

Palm stuck by its previous statement when asked for comment, remarking, "Palm's media sync works with iTunes 8.2. If Apple chooses to disable media sync in iTunes, it will be a direct blow to their users who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience. However, people will have options. They can stay with the iTunes version that works to sync their music on their Pre, they can transfer the music via USB, and there are other third-party applications we can consider."

A simple way for Pre users to keep the good syncing rolling is to not update iTunes.  Those who installed the update can delete iTunes and find an older version online.

Apple has proved merciless in its enforcement efforts in the past.  From suing Mac cloners out of existence to bricking customers' iPhones who left the AT&T network, Apple has done its best to stick it to those buy its hardware but refuse to do its bidding.  In the MP3 player and online music market, however, where Apple enjoys virtual monopolies, one must wonder how much longer it can practice such anticompetitive tactics before its hit with antitrust fines and regulation as Intel and Microsoft have been.

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By ltcommanderdata on 7/15/2009 7:52:15 PM , Rating: 1
Palm's way of getting iTunes support is a hack that reports an Apple iPod Product ID to a computer's USB controller. Really hacks like these should be discouraged since they defeat the entire purpose of having Product IDs if any device can actually turn out to be something else. What's more, Vendor IDs are registered and licensed by the USB Implementers Forum and companies like Apple have to pay a fee to get issued a Vendor ID. I can see it being an issue if another company, especially one as large as Palm, basically steals someone else's paid for USB Vendor ID.

Unfortunately for Apple, though, the update can't lock out doubleTwist and The Missing Sync, and other applications which offer similar syncing for smart phones.

The article makes it sound like Apple is trying to disable all of Palm's syncing abilities, which is completely false. Apple isn't even attempting to disable the Palm Pre's ability to sync with a users iTunes library. All the music is of course still available on a user's computer and all the iTunes library information like playlists is available in an officially supported XML file. Apple is preventing the Pre from using iTunes itself as a client application, but Palm can easily implement their own syncing application that uses all of iTunes' library information which Apple/iTunes directly provides to third-parties. Even Apple's own applications like the iLife suite don't directly interface with iTunes, but use the XML file just like everyone else. There is nothing new here.

While it's disappointing that Apple actively deactivated Palm Pre iTunes support rather than just passively not supporting it isn't unexpected or entirely unjustified. Palm has basically been using other people product's, ie. iTunes, to sell their own without any agreement from the other party. The iTunes name itself is a registered trademark so I'm not sure if it's even legal for Palm to be actively using it in their own advertising as a feature of their own product.

Similarly, I don't believe Apple has directly gone after the OSx86 project since it's basically a consumer interest project. Where Apple has a problem is when companies try to make money off of OS X like Psystar.

If Palm truly wants to provide Pre users convenient access to their iTunes music collection, then Palm can write their own sync application using the officially supported XML iTunes library file. Just like how Apple does it for their applications.

By Alexstarfire on 7/15/2009 8:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
If what you say is true then I'd have to say my earlier posts no longer apply. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if what you say is true considering Jason Mick wrote the article.

Say, someone needs to make a forum just so we can bash Jason Mick and his crappy "journalism."

By ltcommanderdata on 7/15/2009 9:22:38 PM , Rating: 4

You can see the code for Palm's hack for yourself. This was found by Jon Lech Johansen who is famous for defeating the CSS encryption in DVDs. When the Palm Pre is in MediaSync mode it is clearly using the "iPod" Product ID and is reporting itself with the "Apple" Vendor ID.

The application form for USB vendor IDs clearly states that vendor and product IDs are assigned to one company for it's sole and exclusive use. Vendor IDs cost $2000. Duplicating vendor and product IDs is only supposed to happen with written approval from the USB Implementers Forum. I'd be curiously to see if the Pre using Apple's vendor and product ID contradicts "sole and exclusive use" and whether Palm had written permission from the USB IF. I wonder what type of disciplinary actions the USB-IF has?

And the use of the iTunes XML library file to allow third-party applications access to music file information and iTunes playlists is clearly described by Apple. Apple clearly state that they eat their own dog-food and their own applications like the iLife suite use the XML method to access iTunes information. If anything Apple is being malicious to themselves by not allowing their own applications to directly interface with iTunes.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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