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Media (Apple) Media Cellphones Handhelds Hardware

Apple Update Means Palm Pre Can No Longer Sync With iTunes 841

Posted by timothy
from the watch-the-antitrusters-froth dept.
endikos writes "Apple updated iTunes to version 8.2.1. According to the changelog, it offers bug fixes and 'addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.' In other words, 'Buzz off, Palm Pre. You ain't no iPhone.'"
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Apple Update Means Palm Pre Can No Longer Sync With iTunes

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  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:43PM (#28709585)
    Really, what would be the benefit for doing this? For one, not many people really -like- iTunes, it just happens to be the easiest way of syncing your iPod, if you could do the same thing in VLC, WMP, etc most people would. This opens up Apple to a lot more anti-trust suits. Apple had nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing this, so in the end what does it get them?
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:49PM (#28709675)
    No, but they do have a very closed application market, and until very recently a very closed music market, and still a very closed video market. Put all those together along with the over-zealous guys over at the EU who sued Intel for basically having a large marketshare, and you have a risk that I don't think Apple would want to take.
  • Re:Just deserts. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:50PM (#28709691) Journal
    1. Let's consider the difference between an Operating System (something designed to run applications, and opened to third-parties as a way of making more money for the Operating System vendor), and a piece of consumer electronics, designed for the purpose of playing music, and specifically not licenced to third-parties. Perhaps these two completely different cases should be regarded as, you know, different.
    2. You may prefer using files - I don't care. I'd be willing to bet you're in the minority though. I'd be willing to bet Palm would agree with me too, or they'd not have done it in the first place. I guess we'll see...
    3. Merely stating that my post is "idiocy" doesn't make it so. If my opinion disagrees with your own, it doesn't make it idiotic either. I'd be interested in knowing which part of my post in particular you thought was idiotic, although I might be tempted to agree if you'd said it was snarky :)

    Simon

  • by hattig (47930) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:54PM (#28709717) Journal

    I agree with you.

    Apple should erect some walls between its business units, so that the desire to do well in the mobile arena doesn't mean that their systems software unit makes changes to aid that, directly harming consumers.

    Yeah, sure, Apple provide XML files in iTunes for third party applications to use for custom sync. But why not just publish a media sync protocol and be done with it.

    I personally don't think that Apple have the balls (insert tasteless joke about radiotherapy and cancer here) to actually compete on a level playing field instead of pulling a Microsoft and leveraging their media player monopoly (arguably) to negatively affect a competitor in a different business unit.

    On the other hand, Palm should have written their own synchronisation application that tied in with iTunes/WMP/WinAmp/Files + Outlook/iCal/Thunderbird/etc. However the Pre is all cloud-like and probably only needs to get media files on with desktop sync.

  • by Eugenia Loli (250395) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:00PM (#28709801) Homepage Journal

    Palm should go with Songbird. Songbird is not 100% stable and bug free (I have been testing it lately), but if they offer a bit of assistance to the SF-based team, they could make it work for them just fine.

    And in the process, maybe they would be able to open the doors for more smartphones/players who are in need of a capable mp3 organizer.

  • by mrops (927562) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:43PM (#28710261)
    While working at another company we discovered we were infringing on a certain patent from palm from 1998 (I think).

    Palm has an interesting patent from the days where Palm's could sync with internet content over com port or USB with a PC in the middle. This is exactly what iTunes and its Music store does to an iPod. If I was Palm AND Apple did not license this patent, I would sue Apple left, right and center. At the very least settle for Palm to inter-operate with Apple technology + get a huge sum of money from Apple just for the kicks.
  • Re:Just deserts. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:45PM (#28710283)

    What Apple is trying to prevent is people connecting a Palm and getting a tab in iTunes that has multiple occurrences of the word "iPod". This can be seen as a subtle case of trademark dilution.

    What Apple is trying to do is not let a non-Apple device sync with iTunes, isn't it? Without, I presume, some form of licensing or fee or something from the manufacturer. If that's not what they are doing, if all they really want to do is protect the trademark "iPod," then there is a major communication breakdown between Palm and Apple.

  • by MeNeXT (200840) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:01PM (#28710487)

    Are you for real? This is the same shit that MS did with Windows. If we allow this type of behavior in a very short time we will see vehicles which can only be refueled at specific gas stations. Appliances which can only be repaired by authorized vendors. etc...

    They have no obligation to support but a deliberate attempt to disable a feature should be illegal.

    I for one will NEVER purchase a product that I can't do with as I please for my personal use. If you deliberately break the product then I guarantee you will not see one red penny from me ever again. It's the main reason I don't purchase from iTunes.

  • by WiseWeasel (92224) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:17PM (#28710645)

    Because Apple only runs the iTunes Music Store to move iPods and now iPhones/AppleTVs. They make marginal profit on the store itself. If they can flip a bit and make using the Pre that much less of a positive experience for consumers, while maintaining an advantage that the iPhone has over its competitors, then it's a no-brainer.

  • Re:Just deserts. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:03PM (#28711009)

    Just FYI, the legal market definition may not be the same as PC Magazine's market definition. The EU basically decided Apple does not have monopoly influence with regard to iPods because consumers consider media capable cell phones when buying them. Such phones are not included in PC Mag's assessment.

    On the other hand, restrictive licensing of cell phones in the US may be different enough that US courts would rule the iPod to be a monopoly. Most courts consider about 70%, not 90% by the way. In any case, the convergence of cell phones and media players makes such a ruling less likely every day. Apple may be doing well with the iPhone but if you add up iPhone and iPod sales and compare in the combined market for media capable phones and iPod competitors, Apple is nowhere near 70%.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:13PM (#28711093)

    I wonder what the USB ID issuing body thinks about designing your device to use ids you don't own.

  • Re:Qualifier (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:22PM (#28711183)
    What in the world are you smoking, and where can I get some?

    You're trying to say that the "iPod/iTunes/iPhone lock-in" is a problem for the vast majority of users? People use iPods because they're great looking with a great interface. iTunes is simple and easy: Buy your songs through the program for convenience, or load your own on. What, do you think people are trying to load .ogg files onto their iPods? Those who are know better than to get an iPod.

    As for the chinese knockoffs, wtf? No support, quality control, or expectation of reliability. If I wanted to gamble, I'd go down to the race track, not throw my money at shoddy electronics.
  • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:06PM (#28711511)

    One thing that might have crossed Palm's mind is this is a pretty vivid way to illustrate to consumers and government antitrust regulators that Apple is building some pretty powerful mutually supporting monopolies between iTunes, iPod and iPhone and Apple is using one monopoly to build new monopolies. As best I recall antitrust regulators frown on using tie ins with existing monopolies to create new ones.

    Palm was faced with three options:

    - try to compete against iPhone without iTunes support which put them at a competitive disadvantage
    - hack their way in to iTunes, and hope that either Apple plays it cool and does nothing in which case they get the iTunes support they needed, or Apple hammers them and Apple suddenly become a substantially bigger antitrust target and they make Apple's customers feel a little more apprehensive about being locked in to the Apple ecosystem.
    - it would be interesting to know if Palm tried to negotiate a license for iTunes access and Apple rebuffed them because of the competitive threat either denying it outright or making it prohibitively expensive. If Palm tried and Apple rebuffed that could come back on Apple in the eyes of antitrust regulators.

    What ever happens with Palm infringing on Apple's multitouch patents anyway? I haven't been following and I thought this was a pretty serious problem for Pre with Apple too. Everyone demands multitouch now and if Apple has it locked up in patents that will further cement a pretty potent monopoly on multitouch smart phones.

    One thing about the iPhone is it would be quite as big an antitrust target if it wasn't locked in to ATT in the U.S. ATT doesn't even provide service in big swaths of rural America so people in those areas, can't buy iPhones at all and it appears can't get iTunes on their phones either. People in cities wont care but iPhone exclusivity was already starting to cause antitrust attention to be brought to bear on Apple.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:25PM (#28711671)

    That's illogical. If someone bought a Pre, they either did or did not intend to use it with iTunes. If they did not, they have not lost anything as a result of Apple closing the loophole. If they did, then they are foolish for thinking that they could rely on that functionality remaining intact for the lifetime of both products.

    All I'm asking is: where's the accusation of "it's a dick move on Palm's part" for (1) not bothering to develop their own music services and syncing application, (2) not bothering to cooperate with and secure permission to link to a competitor's product and services, (3) boasting about how their product will work with iTunes, and (4) having sat on their collective asses for the larger part of this past DECADE by releasing shitty products nobody wanted to use? You didn't see them rolling over when other companies wanted to appropriate their IP (e.g., Graffiti). So why would you now defend them for appropriating Apple's iTunes just because it's *popular*?

    Get a grip people. Apple-bashing is tremendously popular these days. But give credit where credit is due. It's fun to root for the underdog, but what you're all missing out on here is that NONE of the corporations--Apple included--are the victims. All of these companies employ slimy MBAs who earn their six- and seven-figure incomes by spending all day thinking up ways to squeeze more money out of YOU. If you believe for even one second that Palm didn't see this coming, then the real victim is you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:30PM (#28712153)

    So you're saying Apple operates ITMS at a (near)loss to support their pod/phone business?
    I call [wired.com] shenanigans [appleinsider.com].

  • by RMH101 (636144) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:25AM (#28713867)
    I guess everyone must have seen this coming.
    My two cents: Apple, as a general principle, aren't going to be too happy with third-aparty devices that sync as seamlessly as an iPod/iPhone to itunes, as it erodes one of USPs of the iPod and means that you can get the same experience by buying a non-Apple music player. This implies less hardware sales for Apple.
    From Palm's point of view, I think this is a shot-across-the-bows. Both from an anticompetitive point of view - it'd be easy for Apple to be mired in some antitrust allegations, which they obviously don't want, and also Palm hold a shedload of patents that may or may not be able to similarly tie up Apple in legal knots for quite some time. To be fair, Apple also own a lot of patents in this space, but the thing you realise if you talk to an IP lawyer is that getting into this sort of dick-swinging match is mutually assured destruction.
    I think Palm are banking that they could persuade Apple to quietly ignore this feature for fear of the backlash if they blocked it, and it's not paid off. I also think that the fact they did it, regardless of the obvious risk that this might happen, probably doesn't hurt their image as a slightly cooler, more enthusiast-friendly platform. We're talking about it and saying "Go Palm!", aren't we?
  • by Homburg (213427) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:10AM (#28714093) Homepage

    There is a public, well-established API to get stuff into and out of iTunes/iPods

    No there isn't. Not only is access to the database on the iPod undocumented, Apple periodically changes the way it's stored, for instance adding various forms of encryption, specifically to prevent third-party clients from syncing with iPods.

  • by GauteL (29207) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:51AM (#28714275)

    First. Apple does in no way have a monopoly on Music sales.

    This should be obvious. There are lots of music resellers, both electronic and old-fashioned. All the old-fashioned ones sell music which will work on iPods or other music players after ripping. There are also big electronic competitors, such as Amazon, which sell music which will work on iPods and other music players.

    Second. Apple does not have a monopoly on Portable Music Players.

    While Apple may well have a 90% (?) market share on portable music players, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from buying a competitor, which are available in any electronics store.

    You may ask: but Microsoft has a 90% market share on operating systems, why do they constitute a monopoly while Apple is not?

    Unlike MS Windows, the iPod or iPhone is not (*) a crucial business tool that most businesses require in order to run the software they need. People can't just go ahead and purchase a product from a competitor of Microsoft, since their costly business software probably depends on Windows. But people absolutely can (and do) purchase a competitor of the iPod or iPhone.

    Third. As long as Apple does not have a monopoly on either Music sales or Portable Music Players, there is legal boundaries stopping them from tying these together in an exclusive fashion. If you don't like the lock-in, don't buy Apple products.

    (*) Watch this space, the iPhone is also a platform. This means that it is unlikely as long as good competitors exist, Apple could conceivably in the future become a monopoly on smart phones if they are big enough that third party software developers only develop for the iPhone. In this case, they would need to start playing by different rules.

  • by makomk (752139) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @08:17AM (#28715005) Journal

    Well, it's not exactly friendly to interoperability, but initially it was just a nuisance.

    Then, on all recent iPods, Apple started using cryptographic techniques to lock out third-party software. That's not just not caring about interoperability, it's actively going out of their way to prevent it. The only way to reverse engineer it is to take a debugger to some highly obfuscated and protected code within iTunes itself - their new lockout has the same level of security as the actual iTunes DRM! (Plus, the iTunes EULA bans you from doing this.)

    Now, despite this, the initial version of the lockout code was reverse engineered by some very skilled individuals and open source syncing software released. I think someone even figured out how to sync the iPhone/iPod Touch 1.3, though the 2.0 firmware locked them out again and they gave up due to legal threats from Apple.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:23AM (#28715617) Journal

    They sell a system, and are one of the very few companies left who still do.

    Nonsense. Go to any mainstream computer company or store, and you will get sold "a system", no different to any Mac you buy. Same as if you buy a phone, mp3 player, stereo system, TV, car or whatever else from any other company.

    Indeed, all just about all companies that sell to the end users will sell systems, so I'm not sure what you are basing your claim on? The only exception would be users who build their own PCs, which is an optional advantage you get with PCs, but it's probably the minority these days.

    If you're going to quibble that PCs are sold with an OS made by Microsoft, that's about as relevant as saying that Macs come with chips made by Intel. The days when hardware companys made all their own custom hardware are long gone, and Apple certainly are not in that game.

  • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @12:23PM (#28718307)
    Meh, you sound like a troll. I've used iTunes for my 11,000+ song library for quite some time. I store the music on an external drive, and I make heavy use of syncing with both my iPod shuffle and iPod Touch g2. I build and update playlists no problem and syncing is about as drop-dead simple as it gets.

    I can't remember the last time it locked up. And the "can't read tags" and "can't refresh" comments? Really, are you serious? Drop files on it. Boom. They're there. It's so easy my 6-year-old makes playlists for her iPod shuffle.

    You've never used iTunes have you?
  • by sarahbau (692647) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:19PM (#28720269)

    My evidence is the users. I haven't met a single Mac user who uses Macs because of what the case looks like (and I sold/repaired Macs for over 4 years). People who don't use them tend to think that Mac Users are less informed than Windows users and are more attracted to eye candy than the user experience, and while I'm sure there are some people who care more about how their computer looks than how it works, they are few and far between.

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