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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 Motoman on 7/15/2009 8:49:21 PM , Rating: -1
Here we go again...

Anyone who has any inkling at all that Apple is either a) in a monopoly position in the mp3 market and/or b) they have done any wrong by shutting down Palm's hack into itunes - you are the grandest effing idiots of all time.

For the first point, it is positively the most impossible thing in the universe for anyone to have a "monopoly" in the .mp3 market. An .mp3 is the same exact commodity no matter where you buy it from, or what device you use it on. Plain and simple - THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY TO EVER HAVE A MONOPOLY ON ANY PURE COMMODITY SUCH AS .MP3s. Ever.

As for the second point, Palm HACKED the Apple interface in order to get their Pre to TRICK iTunes into thinking it was an iPod to get the Synch function to work. Get that people? IT WAS A HACK. Apple does not publish an API for their functionality, nor do they assert or imply that their Apple-specific functionality will work with non-Apple devices. Period, end of story, Apple owes no one free access to their proprietary functionality, ever, under any circumstances.

And BTW - not having the Synch function work with your Pre, or anything else, does absolutely NOTHING to prevent you from using iTunes if that's where you choose to buy your .mp3s. It has NO IMPACT on your ability to buy .mp3s from Apple, download them to your Pre or whatever else, and listen to them as you like. MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.

We've hashed all this out before. No one who is making any complaints about this, including Palm, has even the slimmest validity to their complaint. Not even a bit. None. So shut it.


By soydios on 7/15/2009 11:16:31 PM , Rating: 5
A logical extension to the argument is that Apple *SHOULD* provide an API for non-Apple devices to sync with iTunes. Just like Microsoft provides such APIs for Windows Media and just about everything else in Windows.


By sbtech on 7/16/2009 4:27:32 AM , Rating: 4
Then same could be said about MS Internet Explorer. Why can't they bundle it or Media Player with Windows? Not they they are stopping other browsers to run on Windows, while Apple is in fact stopping other devices to sync with ITunes. It is in Microsoft's best interest to add IE to windows, isn't it.

Dont give me there are other download sites for mp3s. There are other OS' as well.

If you donot agree to all the (related to topic)court decisions against Microsoft, I retract my comment - otherwise, you stand corrected.


By themaster08 on 7/16/2009 4:42:38 AM , Rating: 4
No, of course it's not in Apple's best interests, it's in iTunes users best interests. But yet again, Apple have proved themselves to not care about the users of their software, only themselves.

Just because they have their own hardware that justifies this lock-in? iTunes is not used by just those with iPods. Microsoft have their own software/hardware in Windows Mobile and Zune. Just imagine what would happen if Microsoft removed compatability for all but their own devices. I don't think I need to reprise the outcome.

It's in Apple's best interests to stifle the competition. An exact principle of a monopoly abusing it's power.

I really fail to understand how such an abusive, arrogant, antagonistic, merciless, egotistical, self-righteous, hypocritical company is so dearly supported and left to do whatever it feels.

I'm just glad that Microsoft is the market leader in the OS market. An Apple-dominated OS market would be absolutely unbearable.


By Motoman on 7/16/2009 9:58:28 AM , Rating: 1
What lock-in? Please demonstrate how turning off the HACK that Palm made to fraudluently trick iTunes into thinking a Pre is an iPod prevents you from using iTunes in conjunction with your Pre.

And while you're at it, please demonstrate how it would be anti-competitive in any way, shape, or form, if Apple somehow actually did truly make iTunes incompatible with any music players other than their own. To save you some time, it would never be anti-competitive, because there are any number of other sites you can go and buy the same exact product (.mp3s) that work on any player.

Please, please, please - demonstrate how it is possible, in any universe, for anyone to have a monopoly on a pure commodity like .mp3s. Go on...I'll wait. And if you manage to do so, by the way, every theory of economics ever penned will have to be completely re-written according to your new rules of commerce. Because your assertion that there could ever be a .mp3 monopoly is fundamentally impossible.


By themaster08 on 7/16/2009 5:37:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What lock-in? Please demonstrate how turning off the HACK that Palm made to fraudluently trick iTunes into thinking a Pre is an iPod prevents you from using iTunes in conjunction with your Pre.

Putting it bluntly, if Apple had a readily available API for iTunes for those companies wishing to enable their devices to sync with iTunes, in my opinion they should be able to freely do so. Why shouldn't they? Because they have their own hardware? So what? The iTunes user base extends beyond those with just iPods. Why not accomodate for everyone?

The lock-in is that without a hack, you cannot sync the Pre using iTunes. You have to use Apple hardware. I'm sure for those with Mac computers and OSX, which iTunes is the main music player/organizer, this is very convenient indeed. I think with that said, it's pretty clear to see how this is a lock-in, particularly for those with Apple computers.

quote:
And while you're at it, please demonstrate how it would be anti-competitive in any way, shape, or form, if Apple somehow actually did truly make iTunes incompatible with any music players other than their own.

I never said anything about being anti-competitive. This is purely simple convenience for users of iTunes. The inability to sync a Pre without said hack is a prime example of Apple's disrespect for the users of it's software. Just because there's nothing in it for Apple, that doesn't mean they cannot benefit the consumers. That way they might actually gain some respect, which they are sorely lacking right now.

quote:
Please, please, please - demonstrate how it is possible, in any universe, for anyone to have a monopoly on a pure commodity like .mp3s.

Perhaps it's not a monopoly per se, but there is no doubt that Apple is a massive player in .mp3 sales. Just because it's a commodity, that doesn't mean the provider of that commodity can't use unfair business practices to stifle the competition in another market. Apple is using the massive power it holds with iTunes unfairly towards other hardware manufacturers, and more importantly, it's users, to benefit themselves in the music player market.


By Motoman on 7/17/2009 10:13:29 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Putting it bluntly, if Apple had a readily available API for iTunes for those companies wishing to enable their devices to sync with iTunes, in my opinion they should be able to freely do so. Why shouldn't they? Because they have their own hardware? So what? The iTunes user base extends beyond those with just iPods. Why not accomodate for everyone?


You are so wrong here it is difficult to know where to begin. First of all, your opinion on the matter has no bearing. Apple has not published an API, and they have no need, ethically or legally, to do so. If the iTunes/iPod combo has a competitive advantage, such as the Synch function, then good for Apple. If they want to retain their competitive advantage (and what sane company wouldn't?), that's up to them.

quote:
The lock-in is that without a hack, you cannot sync the Pre using iTunes. You have to use Apple hardware. I'm sure for those with Mac computers and OSX, which iTunes is the main music player/organizer, this is very convenient indeed. I think with that said, it's pretty clear to see how this is a lock-in, particularly for those with Apple computers.


Epic fail. There is no need to use the Synch function to get .mp3s from iTunes onto your Pre, or onto any other music player. Aside from that, even if iTunes worked with no other devices than iPods at all, it still would be a thoroughly legal arrangement - but as is, there is NOTHING that prevents you from using iTunes with non-Apple music players. NOTHING.

quote:
I never said anything about being anti-competitive. This is purely simple convenience for users of iTunes. The inability to sync a Pre without said hack is a prime example of Apple's disrespect for the users of it's software. Just because there's nothing in it for Apple, that doesn't mean they cannot benefit the consumers. That way they might actually gain some respect, which they are sorely lacking right now.


You hit it on the head, sort of. The Synch feature is a convenience to owners of Apple hardware using it with Apple software. The last half of your statement is just you bitching about the fact that, in your opinion, Apple *should* open it up to others. The problem is that this is just your OPINION, which has not the slightest bearing on what Apple needs to do, from an ethical or legal standpoint. I am sure that Pre owners, and owners of any non-Apple music players, would prefer that Apple gave them the Synch feature because it is ever-so-slightly more convenient than dragging-and-dropping your music around. However, there is not the slightest basis for anyone to complain about the fact that Apple chooses to provide extra functionality to customers with Apple hardware. There is NO BASIS for you to accuse Apple of any wrongdoing, at all, period.

quote:
Perhaps it's not a monopoly per se, but there is no doubt that Apple is a massive player in .mp3 sales. Just because it's a commodity, that doesn't mean the provider of that commodity can't use unfair business practices to stifle the competition in another market. Apple is using the massive power it holds with iTunes unfairly towards other hardware manufacturers, and more importantly, it's users, to benefit themselves in the music player market.


Yes, it does. You can by .mp3s from any other source you want without penalty. Apple has no basis from which to abuse any consumers in this manner. If Apple started doing something with their .mp3 service that you don't like, you can simply stop using their service and use another service instead to get .mp3s, and there is no difference in the product you recieve in the end. NO DIFFERENCE.


By themaster08 on 7/17/2009 6:02:07 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
First of all, your opinion on the matter has no bearing.

Welcome to DailyTech. Articles are posted to which people express their opinions. Nothing that anybody says in these articles has any bearing or impact whatsoever on the outcome of the topic in the article itself. Idiot.

quote:
Apple has not published an API, and they have no need, ethically or legally, to do so.

I know they have not published an API. Perhaps I worded my last post incorrectly. However, you get my point.

quote:
If the iTunes/iPod combo has a competitive advantage, such as the Synch function, then good for Apple. If they want to retain their competitive advantage (and what sane company wouldn't?), that's up to them.

I'm not trying to argue this. All of what I say is with the mind set of Microsoft being in a similar position with Media Player and using it as a comparison to how one party is treated different to another.

quote:
The last half of your statement is just you bitching about the fact that, in your opinion, Apple *should* open it up to others.

The whole of your post is just you bitching about my opinion as if to say I'm not entitled to one, and what you say goes.

quote:
Yes, it does. You can by .mp3s from any other source you want without penalty. Apple has no basis from which to abuse any consumers in this manner.

Completely missed the point. How is it not possible for a company with a large amount of power in one market to abuse this power to gain an advantage in another market they are in? It's happened many times in the past, how can it not happen in this situation?

quote:
The problem is that this is just your OPINION, which has not the slightest bearing on what Apple needs to do, from an ethical or legal standpoint.

I'll paraphrase my first paragraph. This is an asinine statement.

quote:
. I am sure that Pre owners, and owners of any non-Apple music players, would prefer that Apple gave them the Synch feature because it is ever-so-slightly more convenient than dragging-and-dropping your music around.

What's wrong with wanting convenience? Software with a large user base, that extends further than users of the developers hardware, should accomodate for all of it's users. It shouldn't treat any of it's users differently due to their music player preference.

quote:
If Apple started doing something with their .mp3 service that you don't like, you can simply stop using their service and use another service instead to get .mp3s

So basically you're saying that if you don't like their business ethics you can simply discard them and use a competitors service, which I fully agree with.

However, why is it that one company can be treated in this manner, when another (Microsoft) is treated in a completely different manner on the same basis? Doesn't Internet Explorer and the E.U come to mind?

I can only imagine the lawsuits that Microsoft would have to face if they closed off Media Player for all but their own Windows Mobile/Zune based devices. More than likely it would be Apple complaining about this when they're guilty of the exact same thing. They do it all the time.


By nilepez on 7/16/2009 9:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
Apple doesn't sell MP3s. They sell M4A or AAC (whatever).

AFAIK, this is not at all like Windows Update, because the Palm device is updating using software running on the user's machine.

In the world of Lossy audio, Apple is the overwhelming dominant player, and nothing is likely to change, that. Apple, just like MS, goes out of their way to make it hard for users to switch to a non-apple device.

Could they use some other software? Sure, but most will not, because they dont' know any better. Many are likely unaware of anything else.

It may not be illegal, but most of us can see that given a chance, Apple will turn out to be at least as evil as MS was in the 90's (and while I like MS products, they were positively unethical in their business practices).

Apple isn't any better. In fact, given the fact that they've actually sued web journalists for being journalists, I'd say they've already exceeded MS in some respects.


By Motoman on 7/17/2009 12:20:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple doesn't sell MP3s. They sell M4A or AAC (whatever).


...that's funny, then all of the .mp3s that people get from iTunes are getting hacked into there from some other nefarious source? Better double-check that pally. IIRC, Apple did start out with iTunes only doing a proprietary format that well and truly did only work on iPods - shutting out all other hardware from being used with their service. Which was perfectly legal and ethical in every sense to start with. But later they decided to sell .mp3s that were universally compatible, being the pure commodity that they are, and people who use other music players flocked to iTunes because they like the service.

quote:
AFAIK, this is not at all like Windows Update, because the Palm device is updating using software running on the user's machine.


...I don't see any way that you're making sense here. The analogy is for an electronic service that synchronizes files/data from a server to a client. Windows Update only works with Microsoft products, and no one complains that it doesn't work with Apple or Linux, because it would be moronically idiotic to do so. It is blatantly obvious that Windows Update can/will only work with MS products, and it is blatantly obvious that there is no cause to expect MS to make it work with Apple or Linux products. iTunes Synch works with Apple products. It is every bit as obvious that there is no cause to expect Apple to make this feature work with MS, Palm, or other products...and that is the end of the story. MS is not abusing anybody by making WU only work with Windows, and Apple is not abusing anybody by making the Synch feature only work with iPods.

quote:
In the world of Lossy audio, Apple is the overwhelming dominant player, and nothing is likely to change, that. Apple, just like MS, goes out of their way to make it hard for users to switch to a non-apple device.


Point the first: Apple has a commanding marketshare in the .mp3 market. That fact has no bearing on anything else, because it is a pure commodity market and it is a fundamental impssibility for such a marketshare to segue into a monopoly position. Point the second: Of course Apple wants people to buy/use iPods. To assert otherwise is the height of stupidity. If the Synch feature is a competitive advantage making the Apple solution look more appealing...then it looks more appealing, and good for Apple. On the flipside, if you buy a Ford with a Zune interface, that makes the Zune have a competitive advantage...Apple need not open up their Synch function anymore than Ford and/or MS must open up that Zune connection. A competitive advantage is just that: differentiation between products/services. It is not inethical or illegal - if it were, no one would ever innovate anything, because they'd have to give their innovation to everyone else in the market.

quote:
Could they use some other software? Sure, but most will not, because they dont' know any better. Many are likely unaware of anything else.


BS. I don't think there's a single iTunes user who isn't aware that they can get .mp3s from virtually anywhere else. And besides, consumer ignorance of other available sources is no one's fault but the lazy ignorant consumer's.

quote:
It may not be illegal, but most of us can see that given a chance, Apple will turn out to be at least as evil as MS was in the 90's (and while I like MS products, they were positively unethical in their business practices).


Apple is plenty evil, and has been for a very long time. But choosing to retain the competitive advantage that the Synch feature gives them has nothing to do with that.

quote:
Apple isn't any better. In fact, given the fact that they've actually sued web journalists for being journalists, I'd say they've already exceeded MS in some respects.


We are in complete agreement on this fact.


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