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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 fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:36PM (#28709487) Journal
    Palm: "Oh no you didn't!"

    Apple: "Oh yes iDid."
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:10PM (#28709911)

      Palm: "Oh no you didn't!"

      Apple: "Oh yes iDid."

      Palm: Talk to the hand.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:38PM (#28710207)

      hardware company and not like a software company. Clones aren't necessarily bad as long as they can build superior devices (or have the image for it) and where they would still make money on every sale. They could make decent money being the #1 music site on the web. So what the device isn't an iPod?

      I wonder how many people care about iTunes connectivity when they buy an mp3 player? Is it a requirement or afterthought? If it becomes a requirement, that would promote more lock-in for Apple than sabotaging their software against other devices.

      • by sarahbau (692647) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:05PM (#28710519)

        Maybe because apple IS a hardware company. They use software to drive hardware sales. OS X sells Macs; the iTunes Music Store sells iPods; the App Store sells iPhones. They can't very well sell their hardware if other hardware companies start circumventing the things that tie Apple's hardware to their software. The Pre pretending to be an iPhone when connecting to iTunes is similar to Psystar making PCs think they're Macs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by similar_name (1164087)
          Too bad software has such a lower profit margin than hardware. I mean it's suprising Microsoft can survive. /sarcasm
        • by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:45PM (#28711833)

          Maybe because apple IS a hardware company.

          Why do people try to pigeonhole Apple into a one-or-the-other-ware company? They sell both.

          Apple's "secret ingredient" is not the software they put into their hardware, and it's not the hardware they put their software on, it's the quality of the combination of the two. They sell a system, and are one of the very few companies left who still do.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            It's a little-known fact, but the infamous Reality Distortion Field is produced when Apple software and hardware interact at close distances. It's why Hackintoshes don't have it, and nor do Macs booted into Windows.

          • by RMH101 (636144) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:25AM (#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 mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @08:23AM (#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 Macrat (638047) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:39PM (#28712207)
          You bring out logic in a holy war?
        • by MrHanky (141717) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:32AM (#28714471) Homepage Journal

          The iPod was more than popular before the music store, so it's obviously the other way around in that case: buy an iPod, and you're pretty much locked to iTunes, with the iTMS built-in. The iPod is used to guide people to the music store. In fact, you wouldn't find your way to the music store without iTunes, and it's a pretty obnoxious piece of software you'd best avoid if you don't need it specifically to use an iPod or the iTMS.

          So it's like this: The iPod sells itself by being fashionable and shiny, which leads people to use iTunes, which is used to sell music. No one in their right mind would say: I want to buy music online, and from the iTMS, so I'd better start using the pig monster called iTunes which only syncs properly with the iPod. They say: I want an mp3 player. I want that flashy iPhone.

          The iTMS isn't even particularly cool.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BasilBrush (643681)

            Obnoxious? Sounds like holy war talk. It's a program that stores and plays music. What's "obnoxious" about it?

  • Frist (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:36PM (#28709493) Homepage Journal
    Frist psoError: Device type "palm" not authorised!"
  • by shutton (4725) * on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:43PM (#28709601) Homepage

    I interviewed at Apple a few years ago, and a consistent message from the developers was that *everything* they do is to make the customer experience better. Things are not done simply because they're cool -- they have to serve a purpose.

    So I find it ironic that, as a MacBook Pro user, Apple has explicitly done something to make my experience *worse*. They went much further than simply failing to "provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players." They went out of their way to harm users.

    Shame on you, Apple. Have you gotten so big that you've forgotten what it was like to be under Microsoft's thumb?

    • by hattig (47930) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:54PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)

      If the Pre had used established methods (ie. writing software to parse the iTunes XML catalog and syncing with the files on the HD) you'd have a point. However, the Pre was tricking iTunes into identifying it to the customer as an iPod. Ignoring trademark violations, that seems like it could be harmful and confusing to Apple customers less technically inclined than yourself. In any case it's really hard to argue that Apple shouldn't have its software identify hardware correctly or not at all.

      I have littl

      • by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:39PM (#28710829)

        Ignoring trademark violations

        I don't think this is likely to be a concern anyway. There's a clear parallel with Nintendo's case where reproducing their logo was necessary for interoperability, and although it's never gone to court, the same applies to browser vendors' user-agent strings, including Apple's. Apple's Safari browser claims to be Mozilla in its user-agent string for interoperability purposes. It's hard to see how that differs from what Palm are doing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WiseWeasel (92224)

      That's a silly argument. Apple is not a music distributor. The ONLY reason they run the iTunes Music Store, which is a very low-margin business for them, is so they can sell more iPods and iPhones, where the real profits are made. iTunes is not a product in its own right, it's a part of the iTunes/iPod ecosystem of products, and as such, there will never be a wall erected between iPod and iTunes business units. The iPod sales are what make the iTunes Music Store worth running in the first place.

  • by neiras (723124) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:47PM (#28709659)

    Companies that actively thwart interoperability and promote lock-in are incompatible with the best interests of their own customers.

    I don't care how pretty Apple's products are. If you own an iPhone, a Mac, or use iTunes, you are supporting this kind of corporate behaviour. Either you care enough to modify your behaviour, or you don't.

    Give your dollars to companies that are demonstrably "less bad" whenever possible. Accept that you'll have to go without some of the bling until the market catches up.

    • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:55PM (#28709745) Homepage Journal

      Umm i can run anything i want on my mac, even windows if i was so inclined..
      My ipod has never touched an apple formated file.

      Just 2 simple examples.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Roxton (73137)

      Either you care enough to modify your behaviour, or you don't.

      I care, but I know that what I do won't make a difference. The only libertarians I respect are the ones that acknowledge that we need improved means for private-sector collective bargaining. Bonus pragmatism points for espousing a (strictly temporary) government role in the formation of said means.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:39PM (#28710215)

      Frankly, my dear, most people don't give a damn. They want it to be easy and work, even if it comes at a premium over other brands. Apple has done that. I deal with enough technical problems at work all day. Last thing I want to do is come home and monkey around with making X work with Y. I used to like that when I was younger and not worrying about careers and other real world problems. And now that I'm making a little money, I don't mind paying the Apple Premium to do it.

    • Companies that actively thwart interoperability and promote lock-in are incompatible with the best interests of their own customers.

      True, but in this case Apple never designed iTunes to support third-party players, so it was likely to break at some point. The underhanded thing is making it break on purpose, on the other hand Palm was also underhanded in pretending their device was an iPod. Maybe they just want Palm to actually ask (pay) to be able to inter operate with iTunes? Does anyone know whether Palm

    • by WiseWeasel (92224) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:26PM (#28710725)

      Do you think it would be in the interest of Apple's customers if Apple were instead to shut down the iTunes Music Store, because the margins on that aren't high enough, and they no longer have the iPod margins keeping it all afloat? You can't separate Apple's iPod business from their iTMS business, as one is necessary for the other to be worth it for them.

  • Doubletwist? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bitkari (195639) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:53PM (#28709711) Homepage
    You could always use DVD Jon's DoubleTwist [doubletwist.com] to sync the Palm Pre.

    It reads iTunes libraries (including those irritatingly hidden away on iPods/Phones) and syncs to lots of devices quite nicely.

    It's not exactly full-featured enough yet to use as your main media player, but it's really useful for moving stuff between devices.
  • by Eugenia Loli (250395) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:00PM (#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 Dogun (7502) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:36PM (#28710185) Homepage

    Apple is entering a losing battle with this change. Next up, I imagine either:
    a) firmware update on the Palm Pre that more thoroughly disguises the way the device advertises itself
    b) app you can run from your Palm Pre that shims iTunes.

  • Monopoly? So what. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BearRanger (945122) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:40PM (#28710229)

    Having a monopoly is not illegal. Abusing a monopoly is. And in this case Apple doesn't have anything like a monopoly.

    As much as people love/hate iTunes there are clearly competitors to it. Perhaps Palm should have chosen one of them to provide sync services for their new phone. But that wouldn't have served their purposes--they wanted to ride Apple's market leading coat tails to commercial success. Not by doing it in the accepted way (say, licensing iTunes or paying a fee to Apple to provide support) but by exploiting a bug in the software. Is it any surprise that Apple decided to fix this bug and prevent a potential competitor from benefiting from their work?

    It's true that Apple probably wouldn't license iTunes to anyone, but given that Palm is run by former Apple employees they probably had as good a shot as anyone of getting this done. They didn't try--and worse, they advertised iTunes compatibility--so they very well can't complain now that they've been shot down. The truly amazing thing to me is that people still blame Apple for doing this. Why?

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:43PM (#28710253)

    Seriously think about this for a minute. You've got a device manufacturer that creates a direct competitor to Apple's products, openly advertising that they are piggybacking onto Apple's software functionality without negotiating some kind of licensing agreement and without Apple's consent. Then Apple closes the loophole that enables this unsupported functionality. But nobody wants to blame poor underdog Palm for having done this in the first place. Your average consumer, who either is too ignorant or too self-centered to think two steps ahead, buys into the advertised functionality and then blames Apple when they decide to break it?

    That's not how the game is played, folks. If Palm wants to compete, then let them create their own service and interface rather than leveraging another company's successful work. You say that's unfair because Apple has created a heavily lopsided playing field, and now it's impossible to compete with the massive popularity of iTunes. But you have to ask yourself, where were these same competitors five years ago? What where they doing? They were twiddling their thumbs and milking the consumer for all they were worth while making incremental improvements in their devices. Then Apple came along and blew the whole mobile device market away with the iPhone and NOW they want to complain about the playing field not being level? Fuck that bullshit.

    Make no mistake, I don't particularly approve that Apple did what they did, but if you bought a Palm Pre and couldn't see this coming you are not only blind but you're an idiot. Palm, RIM, Nokia, Samsung, Sony--all the handset makers, not to mention the telecoms who still continue to nickel-and-dime consumers with exorbitant rates on SMS (for no other reason except that they can), are not, and never were, your friends just because now they're the underdogs. Same thing with the MP3 player market. These companies want you to think that slapping on features like they were afterthoughts is "technological progress." They never had the vision to rethink the whole device and the whole user experience from the bottom up. And now people have the balls to complain that Apple is a monopoly because they gave you real competition? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:21PM (#28711639)

      If Wikipedia is correct Apple had 88% of the U.S. download market in 2006 and it passed Walmart as the #1 all around music sales leader in 2008. iTunes is a defacto monopoly now and Apple better start treading more carefully. Using tie ins to build new monopolies, which seems to be what they are doing here, is especially dangerous. An antitrust regulator might be inclined to say Apple's defacto monopoly on online music sales is giving them an unfair advantage in other markets, in this case the smartphone market. If a competitor can't bring a new smartphone to market because they can't access online music because of a monopoly Apple is begging for an antitrust complaint.

      You can argue competitors just have to start their own competing MP3 service but that is a very tall order, especially since it requires inking deals with a relatively small number of recording companies that are something of cartel themselves. They are already distributing their product through iTunes and may or may not give a competing MP3 services the same terms, or may not deal with them at all which would make the iTunes monopoly very pronounced and entrenched.

      • by mr_matticus (928346) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @02:03AM (#28713429)

        iTunes is a defacto monopoly now and Apple better start treading more carefully.

        Why? The iTunes Store enables media acquisition, desktop playback, library organization, and is written to sync with Apple devices. All your downloads are sitting pretty, right there on your hard drive, fully available for you to use as you please. Anything you downloaded with DRM you got with the known caveat that it would only work with Apple products.

        Using tie ins to build new monopolies, which seems to be what they are doing here, is especially dangerous.

        If by build new monopolies, you mean not supporting syncing of third-party devices on their unpublished, internal protocol, then sure. But that's an uphill battle to convince anyone that that is an unlawful monopoly.

        An antitrust regulator might be inclined to say Apple's defacto monopoly on online music sales is giving them an unfair advantage in other markets, in this case the smartphone market.

        Not really. It gives them an advantage in the internal syncing department, but as a natural effect of them making both products.

        If Palm wants to access the iTunes library XML file and use that to load information in its own sync software, the file's sitting right there for them to use. Failing that, it can read the file/folder structure and metadata directly and compile its own library.

        The Pre isn't disabled. Palm tried to piggyback on iTunes using an undocumented and unsupported hack to capture a competitor's market with zero effort. Talk about unfair advantage.

        If a competitor can't bring a new smartphone to market because they can't access online music because of a monopoly

        Where can't they? 1. Buy music from Amazon, iTunes, Walmart, Microsoft, whatever. 2. Transfer files to Pre. 3. Profit.

        You can argue competitors just have to start their own competing MP3 service

        Like the rest of your comment, it's entirely off base and out of scope. Palm doesn't need an MP3 service. All they have to do, and all they had to do from the start, was put a modicum of effort into writing their own synchronization software. There's nothing particularly special about the media storage of iTunes (files and folders) or the library database (XML).

        Palm just noticed that there was a way they could get plug-and-chug support for free, and leave Apple holding the bag of dog crap when future versions of iTunes no longer worked with whatever hacked-together code was stuffed onto the Pre. Suddenly "iTunes broke my Pre!" would ring out all across the Internet.

        that is a very tall order, especially since it requires inking deals with a relatively small number of recording companies that are something of cartel themselves.

        Apple did it, and did it before the lucrative nature of the setup had empirical evidence. If anything, it should be easier to compete now.

        Get real. The iTunes Store has almost nothing to do with this. The iTunes client software, developed by Apple, supports syncing Apple devices. They're not, nor in any rational world would they be, required to support third party data transfer.

        If you want to put all smartphone manufacturers in a room and tell them to come up with an open standard for data synchronization, fine, but until that's the case, get real.

        You're babbling about nothing. Palm never had any right or reasonable expectation to be able to use Apple's unpublished protocols and expect it to work in a production environment. No one's stopping Palm from syncing the media or selling their smartphones.

  • by SideshowBob (82333) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @06:58PM (#28710461)

    A device masquerading as another device by using the same USB manufacturer/device ID is not the way to build interoperability. It's just inviting all sorts of unintended consequences and bugs. How did this ever pass muster at Palm?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

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

    • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:06PM (#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.

  • Sour grapes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sbeckstead (555647) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:18PM (#28710649) Homepage Journal
    Yeah I mean here's the skinny on this. You spend years making a name for yourself and writing software that people use to handle their hardware. You give it away for free to everyone because it has some general use. But you put your store in it and then add a hardware sync function. Now you've spent millions of dollars in developer time and advertising to make this work. Along comes a direct competitor and shoves his nose into a crack in the fence and starts cannibalizing your customers with your own software. and you fix the fence and everyone else screams? Give me a break. The whiners here are pathetic and wrong. If you don't like Apple don't use their products, go away and shut the f*** up. Or alternatively offer correct and useful intelligent conversation not this whiny "how dare they" crap. Like a bunch of foxes complaining about how sour those grapes probably are.
  • by GauteL (29207) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:51AM (#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.

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