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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 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.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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