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back to article Palm slams Apple, hoodwinks iTunes

Palm has filed a complaint with an industry group that monitors USB standards, claiming that Apple is "hampering competition" by locking the Palm Pre out of iTunes. The same complaint also reveals details of how the Pre tricks iTunes into thinking it's an iPod. At issue is the tussle between Apple and Palm over the Palm Pre's …

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Anonymous Coward

Re:

"I'd disagree that Apple can't tell you what you can or can't connect to iTunes - they wrote the app, so they can tell you that you're only allowed to plug in a hairdryer if they want to"

So following that bit of reasoning, it should be okay for Microsoft to tell you what you can and can not use with Windows, as it is a piece of software that they wrote.

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"I'm sorry...

..this car only runs on Ford tyres. Please take it to your local Ford dealer."

Apple don't have to like it, or cooperate, but equally it's perfectly fine for Palm to make theie hardware work in place of an ipod. You might as well claim it's wrong to open a .DOC in anything other than Word, to refill printer cartridges, ...

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Jobs Horns

You buy an iPod, you use iTunes to manage it...

And then when your Mac's HD dies, your iTunes library goes with it, and the next time you connect your iPod it gets wiped too. >:-(

I was one of the lucky ones. I had backed up the 30+ GB of music I'd put on my iPod (yes, legally) onto an external HD. How many people bother to do that?

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WTF?

P4S, NJB, USB

The Pre could use Winamp and Microsoft's P4S, NJB or plain old USB mass storage. Oh. Wait. no Winamp on a Mac without parallels and XP/Vista.

The real problem here is that a commercial bit of software from a vendor with a long history of lock in has become the market leader. And they have a vested interest in maintaining the lock in. It would be better for all of us if the market leader was an open system with no hardware/software manufacturng ties. Then the software developers would be striving to work with everything rather than limiting themselves to work with only one thing.

This whole area is so silly. USB mass storage with XSPF as the database would work fine and it would be easy for everyone to support. We really don't need proprietary formats for what is actually a very simple computing problem.

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iTunes and iTunes

I just wish that everyone would remember that there's two things commonly called "iTunes".

There's iTunes, a piece of software which manages your music on your Windows or Mac; and there's the the iTunes Music Store, the place where you can choose to buy music online [other music stores are also available] if you don't like owning physical plastic discs.

This controversy is not about the iTunes Music Store (although you do need to use iTunes the software to access iTunes the store), this is about whether Palm is right to try and synchronise their phone directly with the iTunes software by pretending it is an iPod [did Palm marketing make a bad decision? Will they ever admit it?]

All responses should note there's no "lock-in" with the iTunes software, as it stores all your music files within a structured directory layout, and provides a readily parse-able XML file listing the library contents (this is what the Blackberry and others' software uses.)

For extra credit, consider what would happen if the iTunes software saw what it thought was an iPod, and offered to upgrade the software.

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Stop

@Bob 18

"OK... you bought a PC or Mac, you put iTunes on it, you bought the music that you loaded into iTunes. YOU have a right to use any music player you like to load YOUR music from YOUR computer onto YOUR mp3 player, to listen to in accordance with Copyright laws"

Of course you can use any music player you like to listen to your iTunes purchased music. What you CAN'T do however, is use iTunes to sync with that music player unless it's an iPod/iPhone. Your iTunes music is stored very handily in a folder on your computer which you can readily access, so if your device offers USB transferring then you can quite happily load your music player that way. Apple have developed iTunes as a partner app for their hardware so if you decide not to use an Apple device you're out of luck. Apple have absolutely no obligation to make it work with whatever non-Apple device you happen to be using.

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Jobs Horns

I think...

...a lot of people are missing the point surrounding iTunes. Whether you can choose to use it or not, Apple allow you to go to their website and download it for zero benk, and then use it to organise your media collection.

So, let's say you do this. You don't have a portable player, but have a massive cd collection that you've ripped, or mp3s that you've download from legal/illegal sources. You download iTunes, organise your media collection, grab some album artwork, maybe buy some new DRM free stuff from the Music Store.

Then you think to yourself "wow, my music collection is truly organised now. I'd really like to get a portable player so I can listen to this stuff on the go."

After you've spent all those hours doing the work, your only choice is Apple. Yes, you can buy something else, but you're then going to have to spend hours reorganising, and if you want to buy from iTunes, you have to keep 2 software libraries in sync. Joe Public just isn't going to do it.

And to be frank, why should they? Yes, Palm have probably gone about this completely the wrong way, but if Apple are selling DRM free music, and offering iTunes for nish on their website, they should at least allow other companies to fully sync with it. Not just playlist sync, but full syncing. They shouldn't necessarily have to provide end user support, but they shouldn't be bloody well allowed to offer a free piece of software to rope you in, and then only leave you with one choice of hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple in the wrong, Palm in the right.

Apple are leveraging their monopoly in the digital music market to gain an advantage in the phone market.

This is no different than when Microsoft leveraged their OS monopoly to gain advantage in the browser market.

The fact is, what Apple is doing is anti-competitive, and on the basis of the Microsoft vs. DoJ case, outright illegal.

What Palm is doing, may break standards, but it's not illegal, it's simply their attempt at working round Apple's illegal anti-competitive artificially created barriers.

It's ironic, because most Apple fanboy's reason for often irrationally hating Microsoft is because of their illegal monopolistic practices. Yet here we are, the tables are turned, Apple is the evil one, and yet they flock in swarms to defend it. Their defence of Apple in this case implies that they must also accept that it's okay for Microsoft to use whatever monopolistic means at it's disposal to destroy Apple, else they are simply hypocrits and do not have a valid point whatever their argument.

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FAIL

@Adam Williamson

No. You're wrong.

"artificially created dominance of the software music player domain"

Artificial? So, what you're saying is that there *wasn't* a wide choice of MP3 players and jukebox software to choose from before iTunes came along (which at the time, Apple was laughed at for being late to the party, BTW)? You can bitch about choice all you like. The fact is that people have lots of choices. You just don't like the choice that most of them are making.

"The whole point is that Palm initially shipped the Pre set up such that it worked fine with iTunes without _having_ to fake any USB IDs."

No, it just worked because Apple wasn't making rigid checks for non-Apple devices during the handshaking process.

"Then Apple shipped an iTunes update which specifically identifies the Pre - using its correct USB ID - and refuses to work with it"

That's because Pre are the only dumbasses to go down the shady route of spoofing a USB vendor ID instead of doing it the right way and using the provided XML file like other manufacturers do.

"despite the fact it would work fine if Apple didn't specifically prevent it from working."

Work fine, says who? Pre?

Pre Marketing Droid : "Oh don't worry. Just a few undocumented APIs we've reverse engineered (*cough* stolen by our ex-Apple engineers) really well. Works a treat. No chance of us borking your library by writing data back that iTunes doesn't understand. Uh-uh. No chance of that at all... What's that? How do I know? ... uh... ooh! Look over there! Shiny thing!"

Let's just straighten out a little history that you seem keen to have 'revised'.

iTunes came first. It was just a music jukebox app. It did (and still does) just play music from whatever source you have, other than online stores which are protected and locked down at the behest of the record companies.

When the iPod was launched, iTunes (Apple software) gained the ability to sync the music library to the iPod (Apple hardware).

Please explain exactly why Apple has any obligation to support 3rd party hardware in a software system that has been successful with consumers *PRECISELY* because it's a simple, single-vendor environment that doesn't force people to deal with incompatibilities?

You know, incompatibilities caused by stupid crap that companies like Microsoft (PlaysForSure / Zune) and Pre (unauthorised use of undocumented APIs) pull because they're too lame to build products that enough people want to buy?

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FAIL

Clubbing.

I hear all the palm engineers tell the girls in the club on a saturday night that they work for apple so they can synchronise contact details.

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Anonymous Coward

@Armchair Legal experts.

Got a law degree? MBA or Economics degree? Didn't think so. Stick to computers...

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Badgers

Vendor Id's and my nightmares

Oh god, my worst nightmare, I'm going to actually defend Apple :(

Sorry, but these VendorID numbers are assigned by a body, in this case the USB guys, for the use of that Vendor. For another vendor to use it is kinda foul play. It would be like using their MAC address company identifier. So yes, in this case Palm aren't playing the game, in fact as far as I am concerned, they're stooping to the same subhuman low life level that Apple reside in.

If they want the Pre to be recognised by iTuff then frig the software like everyone else. Better still, don't use iFU.

Yes, I'm a hardware engineer... fix it fookin' software.

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Big Brother

anti competetive?

Surely this is comparable to say if Microsoft were to block non-IE browsers from visiting its website. Sure, people can fake their browser, or other browsers could write some proxy system in to allow users to access microsoft.com, but why the hell should they?

Apple claims to have the best smart phone and mp3 player hardware/software available, and they might be quite right, but they seem to be trying to create a monopoly that shuts out all competition which isn't good for us end users in the longrun.

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Jobs Halo

Finally the fanbois have spoken!

OK - everybody stop using SMB right now! Andrew Tridgell had no right to reverse engineer our message protocol.

Right - that's sorted.

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Palm is doing this for publicity

Of course it's easy for Palm to write a sync application that accesses the media and tag information (held in standard format outside iTunes), and even accesses the iTunes catalogue if they are prepared to track iTunes releases. I'm sure Apple would be happy with that: more business through the iTunes store, clear demarcation of what is Apple and what is Palm. Apple would probably turn a blind eye to the existence a "well known hack" allowing Pre to pass itself off as iPod. But a competitor passing off their device as being equivalent to an Apple device is a step too far.

What they are not happy with is the hijacking of the iPod brand identity by a competitor, with a product that doesn't offer iPod features or design, and the probability, if this is allowed to continue, that the iPod USB interface becomes a de facto open standard, to which further innovation cannot be applied. There are also substantial bandwidth costs for Apple in providing iTunes and associated services. Palm should pay their fair share of that and not freeload.

Palm have a steep uphill battle on their hands to catch up with the rapidly evolving iPod/iPhone infrastructure. They are getting lots of free publicity from this spat, saving a little on writing a sync app, and stirring Apple outrage among shallow thinking "because I'm worth it" freetards.

If you think allowing Palm to interoperate is the right thing, then why don't you go with Microsoft Playsforsure. Microsoft lets compatible devices from any manufacturer use that. And Playsforsure is guaranteed by Microsoft to play on any device. Oh wait - Microsoft dumped that, closed the music store, killed all the music customers had already bought, and went into competition with their former partners with the Zune and a new proprietary music format that's not Playsforsure.

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Thumb Down

Pre: Killer Feature

Was "Works with iTunes" really such a big selling point for the Pre?

It must be pretty crappy if it was.

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FAIL

Ridiculous

> And then when your Mac's HD dies, your iTunes library goes with it, and the next time you connect your iPod it gets wiped too. >:-(

It's VERY easy to avoid this. It's called reading the instructions.

> You might as well claim it's wrong to open a .DOC in anything other than Word

Well, if that other software claims to be able to work with .DOC files then that's fine. What would be wrong is complaining to Adobe that Photoshop won't open .DOC files. Adobe don't claim it will and don't support that usage, same as Apple don't claim Palm devices will work with iTunes.

Why is nobody complaining about other device manufacturers? The music sync software I got with my Sony Ericsson phone won't work with a Nokia, and vice-versa. The photo transfer software I got with my Panasonic digital camera won't work with my Fuji camera. I can still transfer photos manually, as you can with iTunes music. But the software that came with the device doesn't work with other manufacturers devices, and doesn't claim it will.

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Gold badge

Re: And if M$ did this with Zune...

Except that nobody would have given a rat's arse as WMP doesn't have the world's most popular online music store, backed by a multimedia advertising campaign that makes everyone else put together look like an also-ran, locked into it.

Which is the killer here. If it were possible to purchase music and download it from the iTunes store using A.N.Other piece of software and iTunes itself really was "just" the iPod sync program *and* Apple provided and supported the APIs into said store to facilitate this, then Palm would be taking the piss.

As it is, they're trying to handle offering media player functionality in a world where there's a de facto, vertically integrated, locked down tighter than a gnat's chuff monopoly.

While it may well be possible to extricate music from the iTunes app by other means, this means you still have to have iTunes, a fairly strong incentive to purchase a device that works with it natively. It also means that it doesn't "just work" any more, so Johnny Mug Punter will buy an iPhone, which does.

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FAIL

@And if M$ did this with Zune... #

They did, or is your memory failing a bit?

PlaysForSure ring a bell?

It didn't cause any rimples in the pond because the Zune is just a niche player.

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FAIL

Crazy from the get go

Palm: Look at our iPhone-botherer. Isn't it nice?

Apple: It sure is. But do you seriously think we're just going to sit idly by whilst you use our own software to compete against us?

Palm: Errr... yes?

Apple: Errr... no. Develop your own, freetards!

Whoever at Palm thought this was a sensible idea should be banished to the basement and have their stapler taken away from them.

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Jobs Halo

@ markfiend

"And then when your Mac's HD dies, your iTunes library goes with it, and the next time you connect your iPod it gets wiped too. >:-(

I was one of the lucky ones. I had backed up the 30+ GB of music I'd put on my iPod (yes, legally) onto an external HD. How many people bother to do that?"

Actually, anyone who's used Time Machine or similar software to backup their Mac...

And while I'm here, my tuppenceworth: lots of people seem to be able to write software to interface non-Apple devices to iTunes, from Blackberry to the guy who wrote the stuff for SE p910s and some other phones. Would it really have been too much for Palm to do the same, or licence something Pre-rolled (badoom-tish) from someone else? Or just have it mount as a drive - I believe (haven't tried it) that you can drag and drop to USB drives/players that mount as them directly from iTunes.

Seems like Palm, having decided to try to clone the iPhone's interface etc decided they might as well go the whole hog and just pretend to be Apple kit. Rather pathetic, and frankly lazy. Can't help thinking that betting the farm on a device trying to be something else isn't the wisest move ever seen. And they were ahead of the game with the Treos to start with: what a waste.

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FAIL

It's not rocket science to code something

Look, the iTunes library is a fracking XML file... There are DOZENS of apps that access that file for it's information, and use it to manage syncing music to devices, add/manage music in the library through external tools, offer remote control ability, update ID3 tags and album art, and more.

Apple has plug-in support for such external apps, and the XML file can be modified in REAL TIME, without causing issues with iTunes.

All Palm had to do was write a small app to interface with what other companies have already done. Many of these companies offer their software from $9.99 to $29.99 (like Tune-Up which offers LIFETIME upgrades to their library management app for $29.99), annd some of them have that as their only line of profit. Surely Palm could have dedicated a few people to write an app that might have added $3-5 to the price of the device, instead they'll blow millions on legal cases, have disgruntled customers, and in the end almost certainly loose their case. Or, they could have partnered with Apple, which may very well have worked if the Pre settled on full iTunes integration as that could only make Apple money...

iTunes is just a library management package. The music is all on the hard disk stored in simple folders. The data about it is in a simple XML file. All palm needed was to have a simple interface to read a file, then sync songs based on use selections. iTunes still doesn't manage photos, and the Pre can't play podcasts and iTunes video due to those still containing FairPLay DRM unlike music. All integrating "directly" did for them was to make the process look "slightly" more seamless, but without Apple's permission, seriously, how long did they think this was going to last? The SECOND the press got wind, ervy single one predicted the very next update to iTunes would break the functionality, and they were all right.

I'm not a fan of Apple restricting access the way they do, but honestly, what's Apple really supposed to do here? That iPod icon is not just an icon. Clicking on it brings up all the preferences to manage the device, syncs not just music, but all forms of iTunes meda supported, manages the USB disk porttion of the iPod, manages iPhone device settings, handles formware and software updates, loads games, apps, and more. Asking for integration of non-iPod devices would mean Apple would have been forced to modify that entire interface, and create generic support for devices out of their own pocket. Who would have paid for that, since once it was there, anyone could have used it. No, they were going to retrict it, and if someone really wanted specific device support, I'm sure Apple offered to integrate, but I'm sure the price was VERY high. Much cheaper if you just integrate to the XML file and be done with it... Palm was too cheap even to do that. What's that mean for the rest of the Pre's software??? How many OTHER corners were cut?

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Boffin

@TeeCee

"While it may well be possible to extricate music from the iTunes app by other means"

FAQ: How do I extricate music from iTunes by other means?

A: Open the iTunes folder (that's a directory for you MS-DOS types). Drag the music files to your destination of choice. Congratulate self on job well done.

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Alert

good for apple

imagine that its their software they can prevent / promote everyone else as they see fit --------

hold on ------ ---------- all the fanbois lauding this, isn't this what you were all whining about with IE and Microsoft.

Please form an opinion and stick to it - or is it Apple ->Good, MS <- Bad whetever happens

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Go

A new 'tard!!

Pretard: someone who wants his particular hardware choice to be supported by another manufacturer because, well, it just, you know, whatever.

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Happy

I punched him because he kicked me, which one of us is the bad one?

Sounds to me like they're both at fault...

Palm had done the dirty on the USB spec by putting in someone elses Vendor ID in their devices (Don't know _how_ naughty this is, but it certainly isn't kosher, even if it is to circumwent unfair trading practices).

Apple is showing it's usual love for the competition by vertically integrating browsing, buying, organising and listening to music. And then locking out all competition from each step of the process (well, not 100% but they've still made pretty good efforts at curbing it for most who arn't computer 'experts').

From all the analogies / Similies above, most of them are either deeply flawed or just plain wrong. Here's a better one:

MS owns the leading OS for personal computers. They also make computer mice (mouses?). Therefore they _could_ decide to make Windows only work with MS branded mice (mouses again?). If someone (say logitech) decided to make a mouse that had a VendorID in it that made the mouse look like a MS mouse so that you could use it on windows (when MS only wanted you to use MS mice/mouses with their software), then that would be a little bit naughty (by both of them).

Pointing out that Logitech should write their own OS to work with their mouse just doesn't fly, competition doesn't work that way. Companies should be able to compete on smaller components than complete vertically integrated product systems.

On the computer front apple's tighly vertically integrated business doesn't breach any monopoly laws, because they don't have a monopoly or even a majority share (or anything close to it) in the market.

In the music player (and online music store) market the situation is different.

I just realised that this has turned out to sound a bit anti-apple, so I will finish by restating my initial position that Apple and Palm are both in the wrong with this one.

Oh, and my blackberry actually has a very nice drag and drop music player... automatically scans my id3 tags as well... only shortcoming is a lack of ogg support... (and it does a nice job of video as well) <- (Since someone above asked is anyone thought BB was a good media player).

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Anonymous Coward

With Apple on this one

It is their software, they are not preventing the Pre from working with the OS just an application, for now. Big deal, its their software. That like me complaining that the Mac OSX version of MSN Messenger dosnt do voice, and trying to claim that MS are in the wrong cos it works on windows.

iTunes is a choice, you dont have to use it, on your Mac or PC.... keyword here CHOICE!!

Interesting, iPhoto works with most cameras, I wonder if that would change if Apple started to make a digital camera.

I think Apple, with their desire to be the digital media hub of your life, are missing the point, for the sake of the consumer, and their digital hub dream need to allow items such as the Pre the work with iTunes, perhaps they could come up with an "iTunes Ready" sticker.

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Anonymous Coward

Think...

All Palm really need is a tool that sits between the iTunes download directory and their device. That isn't as serious a hassle than it would be to start their own store, negotiate with record companies and stuff. Heck, they could probably knock that out within a week.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Both sides are right

“Songbird is better than iTMS anyway and so functionally similar nobody would be missing out by moving.”

Unless you want to rip one of your CDs in order to add it to your library – just one example and one that has been requested by users for well over a year, but somehow other functions such as viewing album art, have taken a priority.

I think it’s more of case of in terms of aesthetics, rather than functionality, that people wouldn’t miss by switching – after all, the look of Songbird has been ‘influenced’ by iTunes.

CD ripping is supposed to be added in October and lots more features are also to be incorporated, Songbird always has shown huge potential but currently, it’s lacking in a few areas….

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Grenade

market share

This is no longer down to who is right and who is wrong, its now about market share. MS get creamed everytime they attempt to lock down something, as they have the market share and thus its seen as anti-competitive.

Apple have the market share with itunes and the ipod. therefore locking out competitors has now become anti-competitive. So, regardless of apple being right/wrong they should/will eventually be made comply and allow other vendors use itunes.

its a rule thats good enough for MS and should be good enough for Apple

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Jobs Halo

I didn't think that through.

AC at 10:59:

> It's VERY easy to avoid this. It's called reading the instructions.

lol Touché.

bygjohn :

> Actually, anyone who's used Time Machine or similar software to backup their Mac...

Yeah OK I didn't think that through. :-)

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Silver badge
Stop

All missing the point

The point is, if I make a product, no matter what that product may be, by law I am not allowed to stipulate what users do with it after they have bought it and paid for it with their own money that they earned by hand or by brain.

If I make gas boilers, I can't say you can only connect them to my approved radiators.

If I make caravans, I can't say you can only tow them behind certain makes of car.

If I make amplifiers, I can't say you can only connect them to my approved devices.

And so on. Thus ensuring that there is a healthy, competitive market for third-party accessories and interoperable devices. The people who pay the manufacturers' wages reap the benefit of the competition.

Even if I try to use a fancy, patented connector to try to force competitors at least to pay me money if they want to make accessories that will fit my products, that won't wash with the authorities: it's explicitly *not* a breach of patent or copyright if someone is forced to clone a patented product or a copyrighted phrase for the sake of interoperability.

By the mere act of checking for specific VendorIDs, Apple are giving every other manufacturer the green light to spoof their VendorID (if this is now necessary in order to be interoperable). This has serious implications, and needs nipping in the bud before it becomes a widespread practice.

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Just one thing.....

http://markspace.com/products/pre/mac/palm-pre-sync-overview.html

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Boffin

I got fed up reading your drivel half way through the page

I read about half the comments before I got bored/sickened and decided to add my own.

A few points and items of clarification:

1, iTunes is not the only way to sync your music library to an iPod, I believe WinAmp will do it (I haven't tried). So perhaps Pre users can use that.

2, iTunes is not the only way to copy music to MP3 players. For most, drag and drop works nicely.

3, I can only speak from personal experience but having a music library that is 80Gb in size, I would be unable to sync it to a phone anyway, so this is only going to affect people with a small amount of music surely? In which case, see point 2 above.

4, Writing a program that scans a directory, displays the files in a requestor asking which ones you want to sync and then syncs them is not beyond the intelligence of the guys who work for Pre. If they give me - oooh say £100,000 I'll write some something that will do this for them. It would be less than a days work! If they want to be able to sync from iTunes directly, they could write some Applescript and easily do it without pretending to be an iPod at all.

5, Yes iTunes is pretty terrible on the PC. Runs very smoothly on a Mac though. It also does a sterling job of helping you manage your music library.

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Palms argument is fundamentally stupid

This would be like Sony Ericsson being asked to make their PC Studio software work with Nokia mobile phones. They are both media sync applications so I don't see the difference here. It's ludicrous.

Palm trying in vain to take a bite out of Apple's reputation.

(This is coming from someone who has owned one Apple product, a 4G (or was it 5G, there were so many G's) 30GB video iPod, which I subsequently stopped using when I got a Walkman range phone.)

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Who's liable?

If a device pretending to be an iPod is hosed by a firmware update intended for a real iPod - who is liable?

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Stop

"Market share"

"Apple have the market share with itunes and the ipod. therefore locking out competitors has now become anti-competitive."

Er, no they don't. Most people out there do NOT own an iPod. Contrary to the Guardianistas and other media luvvies attempts to convince you otherwise, digital music downloads are nowhere near close to traditional CD sales. Even Amazon make more money selling boxed CDs with music etched on them than Apple make from their iTMS. This is in no way, shape or form a "monopoly". Anyone who continues to spout such arrant nonsense needs to get out more.

iTunes Music Store does NOT make a profit. It never has. It's effectively revenue-neutral: The only reason it's there at all is because Apple's overall vision for content is that it's downloaded, rather than distributed on physical media like CDs, so they wanted to provide a complete end-to-end service for buyers of their iPod products.

Apple are *entirely* about vertical, integrated product design. That's the whole damned POINT of Apple's products. To whine that Apple aren't Microsoft or GNU / Linux is to completely misunderstand what Apple *do*.

Apple are a commercial business. They're in this to make *money*, just like Palm, Microsoft and Nokia. None of these companies are charities. They're sure as hell not obliged to support competitors. The ONLY reason Microsoft have been so forced—and I entirely disagree with the EU's actions—is because they've been convicted of having a monopoly in a court of law.

As others have pointed out, Palm could have written a trivial plug-in for iTunes to make their device work pretty much seamlessly with Apple's combined media manager / iPod sync tool. It's not hard. There are plenty of people out there who've even written iTunes plug-ins for free. Hell's bells, even *I* could write an iTunes plug-in! It's not exactly hard.

XML is an *open standard*. AAC (part of the MPEG-4 spec.) is—shock!—an *open standard*. Only some video formats are packaged with DRM, but that's not *Apple's* fault. Like any other similar company, they'd be quite happy not to have to pay support people to deal with DRM-related issues.

Yet Palm have designed their Pre to impersonate an Apple iPod. This means if iTunes tries to do something the Pre doesn't actually support, such as a firmware update or whatever, it's an "iTunes" error message the users will see, not one with a big "Palm" label at the top. So guess who'll be paying support people to field questions about a piece of hardware they don't even make?

Apple have never made any secret of their integrated approach to design. They're the Mercedes or Rolls-Royce of the IT world: they make kit for people who don't care *how* they get from A to B, as long as it's comfortable, doesn't break down and lets them read their copy of The Times in peace while the chauffeur gets on with the driving.

Microsoft are a little more secretive about their real "killer app". (It's Visual Studio, in case you're wondering.) They're all about the developers. The BMW or Ferrari of the IT world. For them, it's all about the *driving*, the power-slides, squeezing the machine until it screams.

GNU / Linux is a sad, mewling ADD-suffering basket-case as far as most normal people are concerned. They're all about the *technology*. The Caterham kit car of the IT world; for them, it's all about what's under the bonnet. Not the journey. Not even the driving itself, but all the grommets, pistons, fanbelts and overhead cams.

(I've written at length on this very subject on my own site here: www.bangbangclick.com. Saves me having to repeat myself.)

Pick the company whose philosophy most closely matches your own, but please, god, stop banging on about how *your* philosophy is the One, True Way. Because there's no such thing.

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@A J Stiles

"The point is, if I make a product, no matter what that product may be, by law I am not allowed to stipulate what users do with it after they have bought it and paid for it with their own money that they earned by hand or by brain."

Dude... if you paid someone for iTunes you've been scammed.

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@A J Stiles

Dude, are you related to T J Stiles of the great band Luxrock?

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Paris Hilton

Beware! There be lawyers...

I can soon see some duff who goes out and buys a Palm, syncs up with their iTunes library, gets locked out and sues Apple because their Palm doesn't work as Palm advertised. Yep... only a matter of time. Maybe Apple is saving us all legal nightmares by not tacitly permitting Palm's desired free ride.

Wow -- you mean this isn't a real Rolex you sold me, Palm? Oh, how could you?

Paris, because at least you know what you're getting...

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Jobs Horns

My 2 cents

A lot has been said on this subject - so I feel I must add my voice to this discussion that won't change anyones opinion.

I'll just throw in an extra "situation" that I feel demonstrates how anti-competitive Apple are being.

Say I buy a lovely iPhone today. Its pretty sweet, I get home and install iTunes (because I have to), and I spend lots of time uploading my music, buying some more music from the iTunes store etc. Its awesome - I can sync all this to my iPhone and listen to it all on the move. Its so easy and user-friendly. Weeeeeeee!

18 months and a phone contract expiration down the line, I'm thinking of upgrading my phone. What shall I get? The new iPhone 4GXsqP or the Palm Pre 5? Their features are pretty similar. I like them both. Hang on a minute - if I get a Pre I wont be able to use the music management system I have on my PC (iTunes) to copy it all over. Screw it, I'll get the iPhone.

This is anti-competitive. This is the entire point. Please can everyone stop talking about this now.

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WTF?

Completly Missed the real issue

This isn't about market share, or good vs. evil, or about lock in. This is about how you use the standards you are presented with.

For most USB devices, you plug them in, they identify themselves, and your OS, based on this identification, loads the proper driver. I don't know how man times I have had to go into a config file and change this information to get the device I own to be recognized by the driver I have.

Now apple has taken this one step further and the software will query the device to see if it is in fact an apple branded device. no problem. The simple workaround is for device X, in this case palm pre, to answer back with yes, I am an apple branded device.

I really don't see the problem here, its not about Itunes, or apple or palm, its about the ability of a device, ANY DEVICE, to be able to identify itself in such a way that your computer sends and receives the requisite data in the proper format. Any other issue is just smoke blinding you/us from the real issue, the ability to move your data from one device to another in a method of your choosing. The specs are there to allow interoperability, not to limit it.

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@market share

You, and everyone else bleating about anti-competitive behaviour, might want to take a look at the history books and understand what it really means.

MS got slapped by the DOJ (although that 'slap' amounted to little in practical changes to their behaviour) because they were actively trying to prevent other companies from having the same access to the OS (Windows) as their software division (Office, etc.) and trying to stop certain competing 3rd party products from being a success full stop.

For Apple to deserve the "anti-competitive" tag, they would have to be doing something like trying to stop Pre from making their own media player/library manager. Clearly they are not doing any such thing. The iTunes software isn't an OS component. There's nothing to say Apple has to support any device in iTunes other than the one it was designed for. Likewise there's nothing to stop Palm making their own software to do the same job. They could even read the iTunes library information if they wanted to. But they couldn't be arsed, and instead are acting like whiney little bitches because Apple, surprise-sur-friggin'-prise, won't let them follow their parasitic little business model.

I hope Palm get's their arse kicked.

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Megaphone

@Ian Davis

Yes, iTunes came out before the iPod. And what a massive fricking success it was!

...oh, wait. It wasn't. To a rough approximation, no-one used it.

Notice I said Apple had an artifically created monopoly in SOFTWARE music players. Their monopoly in hardware music players is not artificially created - people buy iPods qua iPods, either because they think they're really good, or just because they're popular. That's fine, Apple doesn't do much to artificially maintain that monopoly.

The same is not true of software music players. Most people use iTunes not because they chose it over other music software based on its (real or imagined) merits, but because they have to use it to talk to their iPod. Note, again, the important point that Apple doesn't just actively work to stop iTunes working with other hardware players - they actively work to stop the iPod working with other software music players. If you buy an iPod (or iPhone), you're locked into iTunes.

Because Apple has parlayed its hardware player dominance into software player dominance, we're left with a dysfunctional music player 'marketplace' (on Windows and Mac) which results in large numbers of people being forced to use iTunes, not because they particularly like it, but because Apple makes sure nothing else will work with their iPod. Hence anyone trying to compete with iTunes is stuck on an unfair playing field - they can't make their application sync directly with an iPod or iPhone, so it's more or less doomed to niche status.

Yes, other apps can talk to iTunes via an interface it provides, but the whole point is that's nothing like parity with iTunes. It's the poor man's option. When iTunes is obligatory (you can't talk to the iPod directly, you can only talk to iTunes) but the other software is optional, which one looks like a pain in the ass to the user? Hint: it's not iTunes (although if people stopped to think about it, it should be). As I said, no-one thinks of the Blackberry as a top-tier music device, do they?

Finally, please stop trying to pretend there's some incredibly special secret sauce to the extremely simple business of synchronizing a music library with a hardware player. It's ridiculously simple. Again, look at a non-dysfunctional system to see how it should work. Rhythmbox, Amarok or Banshee on Linux can all synchronize a music library with just about any portable player (even some iPods, where Apple hasn't yet successfully managed to lock them out), as seamlessly as iTunes works with iPods. It's really not that fricking difficult. Most music players are just mass storage devices anyway. Many that aren't use MTP, which is a decent protocol with a good common Linux implementation (libmtp). For the oddballs like the iPod that don't, other libraries have been written. Then there's a trivial bit of HAL which identifies devices as music players (based on their USB IDs) and defines what formats they can support and what directory the music files have to go in. Then the players have simple code that converts files to the appropriate format (as provided by HAL) and copies them onto the appropriate place on the device, either directly for mass storage devices or using the appropriate helper library for MTP devices or oddballs, and updates the player's database if appropriate (helper libraries do this too). It's really bloody simple, and it works great with any player whose manufacturer isn't actively trying to lock third-party software out of their devices.

This is how it ought to be on Windows and OS X, but because of Apple's artifically-created software player monopoly, it isn't. That's the problem here.

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Sean

""Apple have the market share with itunes and the ipod. therefore locking out competitors has now become anti-competitive."

Er, no they don't. Most people out there do NOT own an iPod. Contrary to the Guardianistas and other media luvvies attempts to convince you otherwise, digital music downloads are nowhere near close to traditional CD sales."

There's a rather gigantic logical flaw in your argument, which is that Palm doesn't sell music on CD.

Having a monopoly in a market is defined as having the vast majority of customers *in that market*, not having a vast majority of the _entire world population_ as your customers. From that standpoint, no-one has a monopoly. Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on desktop operating systems, as most people don't own a desktop operating system...

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poor strategy for the future

I get what they're trying to do, but Jesus.

It's not like the palm will outsell iPhones, or that any device in existence will displace iPods. Apple has little to fear by playing nice with other devices. They should WANT people to use iTunes (a major income pipeline for them, more users means more money) with anything and everything they want to play music on, thereby perpetually reaffirming its status as the default standard music player (and potential source of music) for everybody. Imagine if no other companies had to write their own music library software for their devices, and could instead just plug into iTunes for free, in time it would be as ubiquitous for music as bread is for sandwiches. If Apple thinks they've already achieved this level of success and are now becoming complacent, they should take a long hard look at the failures of that "evil empire" called Microsoft.

All in all I get it. It's just disappointing.

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Bronze badge
Troll

Okay, I gotta ask...

1 -- Is Apple software copyrighted?

2 -- Are Aoole using vendor ID or whatever to limit who can use their copyrighted IP?

3 -- Is spoofing the vendor ID/product ID intended to circumvent that protection?

4 -- Is Palm in violation of the DMCA?

5 -- (Optional) Am I a sick/sad bastard for thinking of that?

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FAIL

@ Rob 103

You clearly have no idea what "anti-competitive" means.

And you are grossly disingenuous (or just a colossal doofus) to suggest that if you change phones that you wouldn't be able to just copy your music files (you know, the ones easily accessible in your iTunes *music* folder) into whichever location the Palm Pre is using for its own music player / sync software.

Oh, except that Palm has been too cheap / stupid / shady to actually develop their own.

_THIS_ is the entire point. Please can you stop talking arse now.

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@Adam Williamson 1

Based on your reply you might want to add yourself to the idiot list. . .

"The problem is that Apple has abused its dominance in the _hardware_ music player market (iPods) to create an effective monopoly in the _software_ music player market."

- Wrong. Apple created a music player and the software to synch music to that player. They have NOT abused it as you stated. iTunes and the iPod grew their markets together, it was an integrated product offering. One was not dominant and then forced people to adopt the other. You characterization is either ignorant of the history of both products or an outright lie.

"since Apple do their damnedest to stop the iPod working with any other application, to preserve this monopoly situation"

- Wrong again. Apple does NOT have a monopoly. Please look up what a monopoly means. They have a large share of the market in this area, but not a monopoly. They also did not "stop the iPod from working with any other app". They desgined it to work seamlessly with iTunes. They are under no obligation to make the iPod work with any other app. In fact it would be stupid to do so from a competition reason as well as a waste of company resources.

"the Pre is at a clear disadvantage compared to the iPod"

- Only because Palm was too lazy to write their own synching app with the Apple supplied SDK.

"Because of Apple's artificially created dominance of the software music player domain"

- Not artificial. How is it artificial? They competed and they won.

" Wow, that's just wrong on every level. The whole point is that Palm initially shipped the Pre set up such that it worked fine with iTunes without _having_ to fake any USB IDs. "

- Wow, THAT is just wrong on every level. Palm originally had the Pre falsely identified as an iPod to synch.

"But Apple can do no wrong, apparently."

- Wrong again. Apple can do wrong, but your assertions above are completely untrue. Apple does lots of stuff wrong (app approvals for one) but Palm is the culprit in this case. They were either too lazy to write their own software, or they hoped to keep their mediocre product in the limelight for as long as possible by artificially creating (your words) a fake conflict like this for the press. Either way Palm does a disservice to its customers and from the sales numbers I've seen they are getting their just rewards.

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B 9

@Rob 103

"if I get a Pre I wont be able to use the music management system I have on my PC (iTunes) to copy it all over. Screw it, I'll get the iPhone.

This is anti-competitive. This is the entire point. Please can everyone stop talking about this now."

- Well you could use the Pre if they had bothered to write their own synching software, but they were too lazy and didn't do it. It's not Apple's job to make Palm look good.

It is NOT anticompetitive. Your expectations are unrealistic for any company. Can you please stop talking about it now?

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