Print 67 comment(s) - last by Motoman.. on Nov 2 at 10:58 AM

Another day; another futile attempt to lock competitors out of iTunes comes from Apple

Apple likes to keep its popular products within tight cages where it stands to maximize its revenue and profits.  Unfortunately, they keep slipping out.  From Psystar unleashing super-simple software support for creating Snow Leopard Hackintoshes, to the iPhone unlockers, Apple's products frequently have been getting unlocked and freed of restrictions.  And most offensive of all to Apple is Palm's Pre smart phone that has been tweaked to work with iTunes, thanks undoubtedly in part to new CEO Jon Rubinstein's intimate knowledge of the iPod hardware and software (he was a former Apple executive).

When the Pre came out, Apple quickly moved to kill the feature, about a month after the phone was released.  An iTunes update temporarily killed the functionality... until about 9 days later when a Pre firmware update restored it.

Much like Apple's "cat and mouse" game with the iPhone unlockers, Apple keeps at it, though, trying to lock out its rival.  ITunes 9.0.2, released Thursday brings support for the 3.0 firmware of Apple's set-top box, Apple TV.  More importantly, it locks out the Pre, yet again.  While iTunes will still launch when you connect your Pre (apparently partially connecting to the program) the Pre won't show up in the side bar, and songs won't transfer.

If you want to grab the update Apple is more than happy to provide it to you in its 88.5 MB entirety.  The update is available for Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later, Windows Vista 64, Windows XP SP 2 or later, and Windows 7.

Palm currently is struggling to find support in the tech community for its defiance of Apple's locking ways.  The USB Implementers Forum rejected a complaint from Palm in September, stating that Apple had every right to lock third party devices out of its software.  The Forum added insult to injury by admonishing Palm for using Apple's USB vendor ID to have iTunes recognize the Pre as an iPod.

Wrote the group, "Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage.  Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy."

While there's no shortage of music programs that can sync with the Pre, for users with iPods (which represents a major portion of users), using iTunes is often more convenient as they don't have to go through the sometimes time-consuming process of transferring their library into a new program.

Apple hasn't been able to keep the unlockers out for very long, but it has been on a roll the last couple weeks.  It first patched the iPhone's shipped firmware to make new iPhones incapable of current jailbreak methods.  And now it has shut Palm out of its private party as well.

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Anti-trust case?
By OCedHrt on 10/30/2009 8:28:53 AM , Rating: 5
If Palm can demonstrate that Apple has a monopoly on the online music store business, it may have a case for legal support.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By davidgoscinny on 10/30/2009 8:53:17 AM , Rating: 2
Since Apple has removed DRM on most of the music files, they can be played on any AAC-capable player, yes even the Zune.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By Schadenfroh on 10/30/2009 9:27:15 AM , Rating: 4
Hmm, Apple allowing me to redownload my DRM laced library, replacing it with DRM-free tunes that were purchased long ago?

RE: Anti-trust case?
By scottossington on 10/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: Anti-trust case?
By Alexstarfire on 10/30/2009 10:43:46 AM , Rating: 4
It's the non-restrictive MP3 player that has a better screen than what Apple offers. Zune HD anyway.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By QueBert on 10/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: Anti-trust case?
By Ryanman on 10/31/2009 2:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
Not to say the Zune isn't locked down, but there are few media players that OOG. If you were to get a value PMP from San Disk (one of the more "open" players) it wouldn't support half of the files you're complaining about. Your comments about the screen are pretty unwarranted too, since the vast majority of reviewers have suggested that the screen looks better than the iPod's (while also noting that it's only partially because it is smaller).

Saying the Zune isn't locked down IS ridiculous. Having owned multiple PMP's from SanDisk, I miss not being able to use MTP and having a bit more freedom. But your level of venom towards one of the best PMP's on the market, that's still MILES past iPod's in terms of "openness" only betrays your Apple Bias.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By QueBert on 10/31/09, Rating: -1
RE: Anti-trust case?
By eddieroolz on 11/1/2009 12:13:13 AM , Rating: 1
Shhhh, it's okay. Apple will reward your fierce loyalty with a new announcement that your two year-old Mac won't be able to upgrade to their latest OS because they purposely broke compatibility to force a new Mac down your throat.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By QueBert on 11/1/2009 11:35:19 AM , Rating: 2
fierce loyalty? LOL, I own an iPod Touch and that's it. I'm not loyal to Apple, I just wanted the best PMP on the market, and that's just what the Touch is. It does the most by far. I don't know anything about Mac's, except I don't own one. You make me out to be a fan boi, yet I'm sure you'd buy a Zune over an iPod because they're magically better simply because somebody besides Apple makes them right??

RE: Anti-trust case?
By ianweck on 11/1/2009 9:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
Irrational frothing about an Apple product over a competitor's usually indicates fanboi-ism.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By BioRebel on 10/30/2009 10:13:17 AM , Rating: 2
Only if you pay the extra 99c per song.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By QueBert on 10/30/2009 10:18:29 PM , Rating: 3
extra 99 cents? some are 29 cents more, many are still 99 cents though. Misinformation is strong as usual on DailyTech. I bought 4 new songs this week and all were 99 cents. YMMV but not a single song is gonna be 99 cents more.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By plimogs on 10/31/2009 10:43:04 AM , Rating: 1

RE: Anti-trust case?
By QueBert on 10/31/2009 2:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
he said to get a non DRM'ed song will cost "an extra 99 cents" which to me means 99 cents on top of what it already costs. Hence the word extra. I was simply correcting the person

RE: Anti-trust case?
By Camikazi on 11/1/2009 12:43:39 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure Bio means if you pay for the non-DRM'd song can you get them again. So 99 cents for the original DRM and 99 cents again for the new non-DRM, that is where the extra 99 cents came from. Bascially he's saying you can get the non-DRM if you buy them all again.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By mikeyD95125 on 11/1/2009 11:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
No you can 'upgrade' the songs through iTunes plus for an extra $0.35 per song. It strips the DRM and doubles the bit rate to 256kbps. Not bad it just stings pay extra on something you already bought. I only upgraded a few of might favorite albums though.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By mikeyD95125 on 11/1/2009 11:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I have no idea why I thought it was 35 cents extra. It is actually 30 cents. .99 -> 1.29

RE: Anti-trust case?
By Motoman on 10/30/09, Rating: 0
RE: Anti-trust case?
By Motoman on 10/30/2009 1:15:14 PM , Rating: 2
Economics 101 people. You can find many definitions for a monopoly's a good one:

A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. This would happen in the case that there is a barrier to entry into the industry that allows the single company to operate without competition (for example, vast economies of scale, barriers to entry, or governmental regulation). In such an industry structure, the producer will often produce a volume that is less than the amount which would maximize social welfare.

There is no barrier to entry in the .mp3 market. There is no way that a single .mp3 vendor can operate without competition. There is no possible way that a vendor can control the volume of the .mp3s that get sold...

Ergo, there is no possible way, ever, that any .mp3 vendor could ever even dream of having a monopoly in the .mp3 market. Anyone who thinks they can provide an argument of how a monopoly in the .mp3 market could happen, please post it.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By sprockkets on 10/30/2009 3:27:42 PM , Rating: 1
Hey motoman, it seems that your clear logical arguments are not welcomed here on a thread about Apple not being a monopoly.

I guess people here think that because Apple has around 75% of the market that they like are stopping people from making their own stores or own music players like the Zune HD, which clearly is a copycat iTouch.


RE: Anti-trust case?
By Motoman on 10/30/2009 3:59:10 PM , Rating: 3
Hey motoman, it seems that your clear logical arguments are not welcomed here on a thread about Apple not being a monopoly

You are quite right. A clear logical arguement is most certainly not welcome here.

I guess people here think that because Apple has around 75% of the market that they like are stopping people from making their own stores or own music players like the Zune HD, which clearly is a copycat iTouch.

People do think that. But they are wrong. 75% of a commodity market says nothing about whether or not you have a monopoly, nor whether or not one is possible. Apple is not, and can not, stop people from making their own .mp3 stores. Apple is not, and can no, stop people from making their own music players like the Zune HD. Whether or not it's a copycat of something else is not germain to the issue at hand.


No. When an indisputable fact is presented that happens to be unpopular, it will remain to be unpopular and people will "choose" to discount it...and the person who brought it up. However...the indisputable fact stands. Popular or not.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By cerx on 10/30/2009 3:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, include it with Windows. Just like IE. And Media Player. Both of which were found to be monopolistic by the EU (right?).

But seriously, your logic doesn't quite fit. Apple doesn't have a monopoly, because Amazon and Napster and everywhere else you can get music, but that's different from saying it's not possible. Especially after posting a definition of a monopoly, which explains how it is possible.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By Motoman on 10/30/2009 3:55:30 PM , Rating: 3
You fail at reading comprehension.

The definition clearly describes what factors must exist to enable a monopoly. Those factors don't exist in the .mp3 market.

You people keep confusing popularity with monopoly. It wouldn't matter what the % of the .mp3-buying consumer base used iTunes - whether it was 10% or 99%. It's plain as day that there can never be a monopoly in that market.

People want to be able to declare iTunes a monopoly because it's popular. Popularity makes not a monopoly. So my post gets rated down, because the fact of what is an isn't a monopoly is inconvenient in this case.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By gcouriel on 10/30/2009 6:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's amazing how we are able to resolve all legal arguments on this forum. odds are, your definition of "monopoly" is not the true and correct definition as interpreted through the courts. that may be your interpretation, but let the sides battle it out in court to see if that is correct. if it were so easy to resolve things, then court battles would be unnecessary. however, considering that Anti-trust and monopoly law is such a large field, i hardly think your ability to resolve it in a post is anywhere near correct.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By Motoman on 10/30/2009 8:07:45 PM , Rating: 2

I didn't make that up.

While in general you have a good point, what is or is not a monopoly is actually a very cut-and-dried issue. Anyone who has taken economics in high school or college can easily make this determination.

But by all means, ask someone else. An economics professor, or a lawyer. Many, many things come through here that are several shades of grey. This isn't one of them.

RE: Anti-trust case?
By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2009 12:27:02 AM , Rating: 2
Let me start off by saying I don't think Apple is a monopoly in the digital music download business. But just because I agree with you doesn't make you right.

For instance, in your quote, did you miss the part about "vast economies of scale"? That's how an online music store could manage to charge less for their products than a random startup could (not to mention the bargaining power with the record industry that would allow them a sweeter deal than the average Joe could get).

What's more, your interpretation of the quote leaves something to be desired. While it gives examples of why a single company owns most of a market, these aren't the only reasons a company could have an overwhelming majority of the market. Look at Windows, for example. Their monopoly is as unlikely to exist as an MP3 monopoly is, by your logic. There's no way a single vendor can control the volume of OSes that get sold (or given away for free <cough>Linux<cough>). The courts don't have to look at why a company has an enormous market share, it's enough that they do.

But then they have to use that market position in an anti-competitive manner. And despite iPods, iTunes, and the iTunes Store all marketed as 'works best with', I don't think they've crossed that line. Granted, I'm annoyed by their business practices, and I wish I could use just Apple's digital content marketplace without installing iTunes, and I wish I could sync other players with iTunes, and I wish their video downloads could play on other players, and the list goes on.... But all told I don't think Apple has engaged in anti-competitive business practices.

But then again, I didn't think Microsoft did, either.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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