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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RE: Anti-trust case?
By Motoman on 10/30/2009 11:57:16 AM , Rating: 0
It's fundamentally impossible for anyone to ever have a monopoly in a pure commodity market - like the .mp3 market. Popularity of a particular service says nothing about having a monopoly or not, since the exact same product can be gotten from many other places with ease and no detriment to the user.

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.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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