Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Handhelds Media (Apple) Apple

USB-IF Slaps Palm In iTunes Spat 600

Posted by kdawson
from the gimme-some-skin dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The USB Implementers Forum has finally responded to Palm's complaints that Apple is violating its USB-IF Membership Agreement by preventing the Pre from syncing with iTunes. It's found in favor of Apple. Worse, it's accused Palm itself of violating the Membership Agreement by using Apple's Vendor ID number to disguise the Pre as an Apple device."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

USB-IF Slaps Palm In iTunes Spat

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:19AM (#29513897)

    Apple is bad as MS ever was - only difference is that MS was huge and Apple is only a small segment.

  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768NO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:20AM (#29513901) Journal
    Seriously can we keep business politics out of this? You may not like Apple but a lot of people from day one called into question Palms legality on their faking out iTunes from this very reason all the way down to the very fact that nothing said Palm even had to use iTunes as they could have used a third party player, a plugin for iTunes like Blackberry and WinMobile users use without any complaints from Apple, or made their own software . Just because you dont like the outcome does it in any way mean that the outcome wasn't the right one.
  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:20AM (#29513903)
    Since the main selling point of the Pre was unauthorized iTunes sync.

    Serves them right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:23AM (#29513917)

    Why syncing with iTunes need to be authorized?

  • Think of Barcodes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:25AM (#29513939) Homepage

    To all those people who think "What is the big deal about faking yourself as Apple?". The point is that these are reserved identifiers in the same way as barcodes are reserved identifiers.

    Would it be right for Palm to use the iPhone barcode for the Pre? Clearly not.

    So here is another case where there is a specific rule around reserved identifiers and Palm broke the rules. Their alternative is to opt-out of the USB group and do it themselves without its blessing or just suck it up.

    Complaining about the rules of a game after joining the table and playing a few hands is just dumb.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:26AM (#29513957)

    Not only does it not need to be authorized, it is also legal to circumvent any and all obstructions which have been put into place to prevent syncing with iTunes, per explicit exemption in the DMCA for creating compatibility.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:31AM (#29513999)

    Apple isn't doing anything to extend USB in a proprietary fashion; it's using an existing feature to differentiate between devices. It's blocking some of them deliberately from working with its software, but it's doing so in a USB-compatible way. Even if they were denied this access, wouldn't it be possible for them to create a challenge-response between the software and their authorized devices that didn't involve the USB Vendor ID?

    On the other hand, faking a Vendor ID for your USB device is bound to irritate and annoy the standards group responsible for issuing and tracking Vendor IDs -- even if it's done for the noblest of compatibility purposes.

    This iTunes lockout is really lame, but the USB-IF shouldn't have to be involved in it. And instead of fighting that battle, couldn't Palm channel its energy into developing an alternative to iTunes and partnering with a decent DRM-free music provider such as Amazon? If their alternative is solid enough, perhaps it could be licensed to other device manufacturers for extra benefit?

  • Not surprising. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:36AM (#29514039) Journal

    Palm claimed Apple was violating the spirit of the agreement by using their vendor ID to lock iTunes to their products.

    Palm used this to justify breaking the actual letter of the agreement by using Apple's vendor ID to trick iTunes into thinking Palm devices were iPods.

    So, guess who got in trouble? The guy who actually violated the agreement, of course.

  • by MaggieL (10193) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:38AM (#29514065)

    Apple is using capabilities of the USB spec to disable interoperation with other manufacturers' equipment for what is clearly purely anticompetitive reasons. Don't you think it's a little late to "keep business politics out of this"?

  • by SimonGhent (57578) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:42AM (#29514095)

    Apple is abusing the ID in an attempt to stifle competition. Palm is working around that despicable behavior.

    Or maybe Palm is faking the ID so that its owners can use the iTunes software that Apple spends significant money developing, rather than develop its own software. Apple is preventing that despicable behavior.

  • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:42AM (#29514099)

    For a sins what Palm did was 7 and what Apple did was a 4.

    If you hacked you Palm to do what Palm did then that would be a sin of 1. But the fact that the company created such actions intentionally against Apples will (3) marketed it (4) to the general public.

    If you did it with your own Palm then it is only a 1, perhaps a 3 if you made it public. As you have already purchased the product and what you are doing is actually a favor to Apple as you buying their songs and using their product...
    However by the corporation doing the same thing, they are hurting apple as they are making a product that is directly competing with their product, and not working with your competitor for compatibility.

    Why is it worse for a company to do something then it is for an individual?
    Well first it is scale, The individual usually has limited influence as they don't have the resources to make a large influence, at best the hack would give you some geek credits and only the brave geeks who could afford to brick their phone to do it.

  • by MouseR (3264) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:45AM (#29514125) Homepage

    That's completely retarded. DRM is out of the picture on iTunes store and if you insist on purchasing there, nothing keeps you from syncing your music library to whatever device you have.

    There was no requirement for Palm to highjack Apple's ID just so that they can benefit from cheap engineering. RIM made the right decision and that is to not rely on software they dont control for their syncing.

    What Palm did is sell a device to their customers and provided no guarantee as to the usability of the product, because they hack another company's software solution.

  • by cabjf (710106) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:45AM (#29514127)
    It seems more like they look at what is plugged in and see if it's an iPod or not. iTunes knows how to handle an iPod, what features it has, and how to organize the music on it. iTunes does not know how to handle other hardware. That's where the plug-ins come in. If anyone just pretended that their hardware was an iPod, who do you think people would complain to when it didn't work right? I bet Apple would get a decent sized share of the complaints even though the problem is someone spoofing the iPod hardware without having the exact same features.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:52AM (#29514183)

    They create an give iTunes out for free. Therefore, they have the right, to disallow/allow any connections to the software they created. Why do they give iTunes away. Two reasons. 1 ) make money off of the iTunes Store and 2 ) Encourage people to use their hardware. Apple makes most of their money not in music sales but in hardware sales. It is not anticompetitive to put your resources behind a product and give it away for free and it is not anticompetitive to have their be advantages when using that FREE software with their hardware. Blackberry is coming out with a mac desktop syncing client. Will it be anticompetitive if their software doesnt work with the pre too. The very idea of palm identifying itself as an apple device is wrong, anyone who bought a pre knowing that palm does these kinds of things, condones it and is just as much at fault. Dont complain when you hardware doesnt work with someone elses software, blame the hardware manufacturer for not putting up the resources to create a decent compatibility solution.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:53AM (#29514193) Journal
    Obviously, the USB-IF is going to take a dim view of spoofing vendor IDs. They were considered important enough to have in the spec, for whatever reason, so faking them isn't going to go over well. I don't really know what outcome Palm was expecting.

    However, that said, I can't see tying attempts between products(above and beyond the natural tying effects that the complexity of software interaction naturally produces) as being even a remotely good thing for users, competition, or technological development generally.

    Imagine if, back in the day, the "Well, they should just write their own iTunes-like application" had been applied to Compaq and the IBM-compatible clone kiddies. "Well, they can just write their own OS and set of applications..." Even back then, with the fairly minimal legacy effects, that would have retarded the development of cheap, standard, supports-the-software-you-want-to-run computers. It is basically demanding that anybody who wants to make anything must have a complete vertically integrated product range, to which they must induce customers to switch.

    Very rarely in the history of technology has that ever worked particularly well. Most of the time, development consists of a few standards, formal or de-facto, and the surrounding ecosystems of add-ons, compatible widgets, clones, extensions, and software, authorized and unauthorized. And, frankly, that has worked pretty well. Modern technology is competitive, fast, ubiquitous, and impressively cheap.

    If, in the future, we move away from the annoying-but-largely-useless forms of tying involving monkeying with pinouts every generation, and obfuscating stuff, and move to effective forms of tying based on crypto challenge-response, signing, vendor IDs, and the like(along with a fair bit of force of law, thanks to Mr. DMCA) I fear we will see a much less rich period of technological development.

    Few companies are large enough, or smart enough, to maintain a fully integrated product line. Fewer customers actually want to use every one of a company's products, and none of their competitor's products. They want things to work together. Obviously, some degree of imperfection in interface is to be expected, interconnection of complex systems is Hard and writing wholly unambiguous specs is Very Hard. Deliberate breakage, though, is insult to injury.
  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:54AM (#29514201)

    Why can't Palm write their own syncing program?
    The iTunes tracks aren't protected by DRM.

    Palm was trying to get a free ride by not having to write their own syncing program.

  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768NO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:56AM (#29514221) Journal
    And you are wrong on both counts. First much of iTunes as it exists today was developed by Apple once they bought the original software, so they are fully in their moral right to ONLY let their equipment use it (which even at that isnt 100% true since other devices CAN use it like the Motorola iTunes phones) Also you are wrong in it being a DMCA issue as there as there is absolutely no compatibility issue. You have other means of getting and using the music in iTunes it's self, you just dont feel like burning a bunch of DVDs or CDs. Had iTunes still have DRM you might have a point, but as they dont except for movies which to my knowledge the Pre didnt play anyway, your point is invalid.
  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:56AM (#29514225)

    Apple is using capabilities of the USB spec to disable interoperation with other manufacturers' equipment for what is clearly purely anticompetitive reasons. Don't you think it's a little late to "keep business politics out of this"?

    Did Apple ever ask to be able to sync with Windows Media Player? Apple wrote their own app. Why can't Palm do the same? Since day one the iTunes library database has been stored in both a binary file and an XML file. Couldn't half of the readers on Slashdot write a simple GUI to read the XML file, let the users choose which music to sync over and copy the files to a Palm Pre in less than 2 hours?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:57AM (#29514233)
    Apple is using capabilities of the USB spec to disable interoperation with other manufacturers' equipment for what is clearly purely anticompetitive reasons.

    Which is entirely within their rights. You may not like that, but tough shit!
  • by MouseR (3264) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:57AM (#29514241) Homepage

    I doubt Palm can do squat on this issue. They violated their USB license by using another vendor ID.

    They might actually have to pay a penalty on that.

    And because they went beyond their USB manufacturer agreement, they don't have a case in court.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:59AM (#29514265)

    Apple is the Microsoft of MP3 players.

    Not even close. You can step entirely outside the Apple ipod/iTunes ecosystem and still get a full range of music. If you step outside the MS ecosystem there are significant programs (games and important business software) you cannot run and significant pieces of hardware you cannot use or cannot use fully.

    Or (now the DRM is gone) you even buy any tracks from the iTunes store and import them into another music manager which fully supports your not-Apple AAC music player.

    In other words, the consumer makes potential sacrifices to stay away from MS, but suffers no pain staying away from Apple.

    But then I expect you know all this being a probable MS shill (I apologize if you are not, in that case you're just an idiot).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:00AM (#29514281)

    Morally, it is not wrong. I dont know what kind of ethics or morality you have but when someone creates a piece of software, they get to decide how and with what it will operate, not some third party. It is similar to saying that windows not support ppc or arm processors is immoral. Its just ridiculous. And is it immoral to give something away for free to promote your paid products. Absolutely not. I am no expert on the law but I do know that if doing what Apple has done is illegal, then the law is wrong. As a software developer, I feel I have every legal and moral right to pick and choose the hardware my software operates with whether it be the processor architecture, usb peripherals etc. Palm is in the wrong for syncing in this way and not providing a moral syncing solution to their users.

  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:01AM (#29514287)

    Why bring the DMCA into this? Apple hasn't sued Palm, nor have they brought in the law in any way. This is purely a technical fight between the two.

    The Pre is lying and Apple is calling Palm on it. I fail to see how Apple is wrong.

    And just because someone says MP3 or music and you hear "Apple" doesn't mean that Apple has any kind of (legally defined) monopoly.

    In short, you're an idiot.

  • Re:Letter to FDA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NoYob (1630681) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:02AM (#29514297)
    I can't stand these folks who insist that they have a right to infringe on others intellectual property. Apple spent millions of dollars on R&D to create this device that has revolutionized the online music industry. Apple the iPod helped Apple stay out of the commodity PC business and boost them back into a great growth company that they were back in the 1980s. Then these parasites come around, use Apples IP to piggy back on its hard work and money. Thank God someone has the good sense to finally value IP.
  • by rwwyatt (963545) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:08AM (#29514347)
    Apple uses lube where MS doesn't.
  • by gabebear (251933) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:15AM (#29514395) Homepage Journal
    Amazingly, this isn't about DRM or the DMCA.

    Emulating another device to provide compatibility is perfectly acceptable

    Except when you have signed a contract saying you wouldn't. The problem is that Palm decided to use Apple's USB Vendor-ID to identify the Palm-Pre, which is something Palm promised not to do in their contract with the USB-IF (Who hands out USB Vendor IDs). Palm violated existing contracts while attempting to emulate Apple's devices and Apple called them on it.

    I don't think there is any reasonable argument for forcing Apple to let the Palm-Pre use their software.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:21AM (#29514449)

    The way it is now is because people objected to the insane enviroment that Apple tried to push.

    Company responds to market forces. News at 11.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:27AM (#29514493) Journal

    I agree - the usual point is that the rules are different for Microsoft because they're a monopoly, but in the market of portable music players, Apple are a monopoly. And how is Itunes not using their monopoly in one market, to try to influence another?

  • by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:28AM (#29514503)

    Why don't you pull your head out of your ass. Apple provides an API toallow iTunes to snyc to anything. All palm needed was a plugin. However palm broke their USB speecs, and legal agreements they lied to end users, iTunes and the USB-IF

    Instead of following the rules palm stole and lied to every pre owner and your too stupid to see that. Apple constantly changes things and yetstill have a better user Interface than msft who won't change their underwear.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:33AM (#29514537)

    Or maybe Palm is faking the ID so that its owners can use the iTunes software that Apple spends significant money developing, rather than develop its own software. Apple is preventing that despicable behavior.

    First let me say that I'm glad Palm got reprimanded for faking the vendor ID. If suddenly that was allowed, there would be utter chaos as multiple devices pretend to be other devices and mess up proper loading of drivers and other important features.

    That said, if Apple wants money back for the software development they put in iTunes, they need to charge for it. Once the software is installed on my computer it's no longer their software, it's mine. I should have the right to use to sync with whatever device I want to sync with, and anybody should have the right to make their hardware talk with whatever software is available on the user's computers.

    And finally, I don't even understand why Palm wants that feature. The real problem is that I need to sync my iphone with that piece of crap software, not that I can't sync other stuff with itunes. God, how I wish I never had to open that horrible software, could just mount the iphone like a usb drive, and dump music files there, as with any other mp3 mplayer.

  • by RMH101 (636144) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:33AM (#29514545)
    The key word here is "spec". The USB spec isn't Apples, and it isn't Palms, and it exists to stop this kind of mucking about and clouding the waters. Vendors shouldn't impersonate other vendors' USB devices, period, and I'd imagine membership of the USB consortium requires accepting this at some point. As much as I admire Palm's chutzpah here, and would like the Pre to natively sync, this is exactly the sort of hacking that isn't acceptable in a mass-market consumer device, and must surely be some anti-competition fishing expedition from Palm.

    On a practical note: the iPhone sync is 2-way. What would happen if Palm implemented its sync with a bug that zapped your iTunes library?
  • by Kevinv (21462) <<ten.neraahnav> <ta> <nivek>> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:34AM (#29514549) Homepage

    I love how the comments immediately blame Apple for all of this. How is this any of Apple's fault?

    PALM complained about APPLE to the USB-IF. Apple re-tweaked iTunes, their own software, to verify the devices claiming to be ipods were really ipods. They didn't claim copyright infringement, they didn't issue DMCA notices, they didn't make patent infringement claims, they just changed their software to make sure devices they support were actually devices they were modifying. Palm makes it's computer connections lie, and it's Apple's fault. Awesome.

    Apple is not the most open company around, but if openess is what you want then don't buy Apple, it's not like you're forced to.

    I'm not really sure why people whine about the iPod not being open. It doesn't lock you in to the iTunes store, or DRM stuff, even on video. I buy most of my music from EMusic then Amazon MP3 store then finally iTunes. It'll accept music from peer-to-peer networks as well.

    90% of my videos are ripped from DVD and have no DRM. Works fine on my iPod and Apple TV.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:38AM (#29514597) Journal

    And when they change the format on newer versions, to break compatibility with your application?

    (They've been doing these tricks since the BeOS days.)

  • by xouumalperxe (815707) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:39AM (#29514607)

    Maybe that's the real issue. Apple changes their stuff far too often, and in far too fundamental ways.

    With Windows, I can try to figure out how to connect the machine to an LDAP server (for example), write a cheat sheet about it, and come back 3 years later on a new Windows machine, and my cheat sheet still applies.

    If you were to write an "iTunes plugin cheatsheet", you'd find that 3 years later it'd still apply. Or, at least, this [apple.com] would seem to imply that the API has remained stable for almost 2 years. Instead of following the Device Plugin mechanism provided by Apple, Palm decided instead to resort to hackery to trick the application into believing the Pre is an iPhone. They also brazenly claimed they'd provide seamless integration with iTunes without actually getting Apple on board. Exactly how, or why, compatibility was broken is irrelevant: you should expect solutions based on hacking away at an application's internals to break frequently, which already fails to accomplish the premise of "seamless integration" without even getting on Apple's bad side. So, unless someone can convince me the API is unwarrantedly crippled, this choice by Palm is indefensible.

  • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:44AM (#29514667)

    Your post is confusing.

    You started off arguing for Apple against Palm by talking about standards needing to be followed which Palm is not doing.

    Then you switched to arguing against Apple (but still not for Palm) because you dislike iPods personally.

    I guess in the end the issue with following standards is more important than one persons opinion of one product of one company.

    So I agree with you that Palm fucked up here by violating standards and trying to wall you into their Pre garden or something.

    Oh, and to correct one of your statements, Apple does integrate with 3rd parties with open arms.
    They did so with blackberry, Microsoft, and a few others.
    The iTunes APIs are published by Apple. I don't know if any license fee is involved, but I didn't think so. Don't quote me on that last bit though.

  • by miggyb (1537903) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:50AM (#29514751) Homepage
    And adding a Vista machine to a network is exactly the same as adding an XP machine? I'm not saying you're wrong, necessarily, but the example you gave of "keeping interfaces and GUIs stable" isn't very true with Microsoft either.
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:51AM (#29514761)

    >It's a total double standard.

    Yep, its a real double standard. I also noticed that no where in this "debate" is the right to modify even brought up. Pre owners, you know the people who paid for it, should at least get the choice to fake their USB ID. Why not? Its their equipment! Have we reached the point where we cant even humor the idea of modifying stuff we own so it works better with our own equipment?

    The USB forum rules are the kind of well meaning rules that dont end up applying too well in real life, like the rules of all the religious books out there. Life is too unpredictable and stuff like Apple owning the mp3 player market makes it all the more difficult.

    It also blows my mind that Apple couldnt leave well enough alone and immediately sent out an update that broke the Palm hack. Just incredible. Instead of just letting them do what they want, they gimped it hoping to cell more iphones.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:51AM (#29514767)
    WebKit is based on KHTML. They couldn't have forked it anyway since it is licensed under the LGPL.

    Darwin is "open source" as long as no one tries to make a competing distro. Just look at the history of projects such as OpenDarwin.

    "Grand Central" already had existing OSS alternatives such as Intel Threaded Building Blocks.

    XQuartz sounds like something just so they can get more apps. Nice for them and their users.

  • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:52AM (#29514777)

    Apple is abusing the ID in an attempt to stifle competition.

    Clearly a troll post, so I don't expect a reply from you personally...

    But how on earth is Apple publishing an API to interface with iTunes, which Palm purposly knowingly and willingly decided not to use, how on earth is that Apples fault??

    Might as well blame Microsoft for abusing computers by not providing flawless compatibility with Linux and MacOS executables.

    Apple welcomed Palm to use iTunes with a plugin with (free) open arms.
    Palm said fuck off
    Palm designed their Pre so it can not identify itself to the computer as a Pre, and thus it is impossible to create ANY software that is 100% compatible.

    Apple has no control over the design process of the Pre, no matter how much you want to blame them for it.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:53AM (#29514787) Homepage

    Two issues:

    1. The USB license issue -- Is it okay to use another vendor's ID? No, probably not. Is it okay to use the vendor ID to work with your software to the exclusion of others? That's an interesting question. Is the use of a vendor ID an acceptable means of keeping others out of your marketplace? That is a question worth exploring since Apple is using its music hardware to leverage its position in the sync software arena and the two are also being used to leverage its position in the digital music selling business. There is a legal term for using one market leading position to leverage another... now what was that word? Anti-something? This second question, however is not a matter for the courts at this point. It is a question for the USB people and at the moment, they say "Apple good, Palm bad."

    2. Is Apple entitled to lock out other hardware makers from using the software it has published and distributed? Here is where that Anti-word might get raised. The digital music player market and the digital music market are "connected" but they are not the same market. Apple is presently a leader in that market and is blocking access to that market to competing hardware vendors thereby harming the competitor to Apple's own hardware by using its position in another market. Smells of Anti-.... Anti-.... what's that word again?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:57AM (#29514837)

    Why should I need yet another media player on my Mac just because I chose "not" to buy an Apple device? I use iTunes because there it not another comparable media manager on the Mac. I for one like to have a few applications as possible that duplication functionality on my computer.

    This is actually a tenet that Apple lives by on the iPhone; if an app duplicates functionality, its not approved. So why would Apple force me to duplicate functionality an the Mac? Your argument holds no merit on that basis. Apple is simply using this tactic to unfairly compete with Palm, Microsoft allows nearly any USB device to sync by way of WMP.

    Believe me, if there was any alternative to iTunes, I would be using it and I wouldn't have wasted my time on this post.

  • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:57AM (#29514855)

    So tell me.

    If you think it is a good thing for Palm to use iTunes, then why the hell didn't Palm use iTunes, you know like all those other 3rd party players that work perfectly well with iTunes using the proper methods, like blackberry and windows mobile?

    Apple did not 'lock out' Palm. Palm designed a broken (defined as broken by the USB spec) device, and purposely designed the Pre so it was impossible for their device to identify itself to the computer as a Pre.
    Palm purposely made the choice to design a product which is physically impossible to design any software for at all.

    This isn't Apples fault any more than it is personally your fault.

  • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:59AM (#29514883)

    but in the market of portable music players, Apple are a monopoly.

    Care to paste a URL to the court case that was decided in?

  • by Entrope (68843) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:00AM (#29514899) Homepage

    Palm's agreements with USB-IF don't have squat to do with whether Apple is abusing monopoly power. One would be a civil case (or, more likely, mandatory arbitration) between Palm and the USB-IF licensing body. The other would be a criminal case -- United States v. Apple.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:06AM (#29514965)

    No, no they're not.

    They're not even a monopoly in the cell phone market.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:07AM (#29514977) Homepage
    First time on slashdot that I've heard un-crippling technology described as despicable. Comes a day for everything, I suppose.
  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:10AM (#29515011) Journal

    All Apple is refusing to do for Palm is let them integrate Pre into the main iTunes application. That would require Apple to publish and maintain a plug-in API for iTunes which would cost Apple money. Why should they?

    Um, no it wouldn't. Palm made their device compatible with iTunes. Apple didn't have to do a thing. Instead, they deliberately broke the compatibility.

    You want to know what cost Apple money? Paying someone to re-write the iTunes sync so it wouldn't work with other vendors' products. If they'd done nothing, Palm's device would have continued to work fine with no effort from Apple.

  • by Ziwcam (766621) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:18AM (#29515107)
    The difference is this: Microsoft was using their monopoly* with Windows (software) to push another piece of software (Internet Explorer). The reason I have to side with Apple on this is because they aren't using their monopoly* on iPods (hardware) to push another piece of hardware. And the Zune software won't sync my iPod... so should I sue Microsoft, for not allowing their software to work with my hardware? Because that's all that Apple is doing. They're not allowing their software to work with the Palm hardware. *Let's not be pedantic about my use of the word "monopoly" -k-?
  • Re:iTunes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:36AM (#29515355)

    You couldn't figure out how to make your iPhone play mp3s?

    Box it up and return your computer to the store. You are too stupid to own a computer. Or a troll. Pick one.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:58AM (#29515619)

    Would it be right for Palm to use the iPhone barcode for the Pre? Clearly not.

    Would it be right for Apple to use the Mozilla user-agent for Safari?

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:07AM (#29515725) Journal

    And the Zune software won't sync my iPod... so should I sue Microsoft, for not allowing their software to work with my hardware?

    If you make a "Zune-compatibility" mode for your iPod, where it claims it's a Zune, will you have to spoof Microsoft's vendor ID to get it to sync? Or will the software say "you say you're a Zune made by Apple? okay, as long as you know how to act like a Zune, we can talk".

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:09AM (#29515751) Journal

    I don't agree with your view. What's so damn difficult that, when Itunes sees a non-ipod, it simply treats the gadget as a file storage device and dumps the songs to the Palm, Insignia, or other gadget. That's a better solution than to tell people like me that they can't offload their purchased Istore songs to their non-ipod.

    I don't accept "you must buy our hardware" from any manufacturer, whether it's Apple or Mickeysoft. One of the great advantages of the death of Commodore, Atari, Texas Instruments, and other proprietary standards was that we were no longer forced to buy their products. The PC platform brought the advantage of generic hardware, and I don't want to see that advantage taken away by forcing us to buy only Apple-branded hardware in order to enjoy our Istore songs.

  • by RedK (112790) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:22AM (#29515907)
    Except you can offload your "Istore songs" onto any devices, using that Device's syncing facilities or just by copying the files over. Apple doesn't have to write in support into iTunes for syncing your device. That's your vendor's responsability. RIM understands and MediaSync for Blackberry reads in the contents of the iTunes Media Library using the XML exported file and then syncs the files.
  • by fatalwall (873645) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:24AM (#29515923)

    then you forget that there store is so heavily used. Of the top of my head I cant even think of any other music store but itunes. This tells me that the average person is probably in the same place. giving them a virtual market over the music store. They only want people using the ipod with there music store because they need to recoup part the costs of making those loss leader ipods. if they sit on a shelf they make 0% back

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#29515959) Journal

    Apple can't break compatibility with existing iPods. If the Pre acts just like an iPod, there's no reason for the sync to not work no matter how many times it's updated.

    Now, if the Pre isn't emulating an iPod correctly, then yes, compatibility might break on iTunes updates, but that's Palm's problem, and they will fix it.

    However, making it impossible to "correctly" emulate an iPod without also reporting an Apple vendor ID was considered a low blow by Palm. There's a device ID and a vendor ID; if the device claims to be an iPod manufactured by Palm, it should act exactly the same as an iPod manufactured by Apple. Not syncing with it just because it's made by Palm only serves to maintain an Apple monopoly. There's no real explanation for it aside from that.

  • Following the Path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:30AM (#29516027)

    Every step of that journey involved one or more open, freely-available standards-based protocols that have been embraced by hundreds if not thousands of vendors so they could all communicate with each other.

    Exactly why the iTunes library stores data in bog standard XML, and the store files (for audio) are pretty much all standard AAC files.

    So your complain that Apple does not follow standards, except they do, and third parties can easily make use of them to provide the same abilities iTunes has to peruse the libraries.

    It's pretty funny as the other poster pointed out you are so hot to attack Apple when Palm is the one deviating from official low-level standards. Guess it goes to show the lengths some people will go to in order to attack someone they hate.

  • Re:Legality? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:32AM (#29516069)

    Do you have a reference for your sin system?

    What is the maximum sin value? Is it stored as a long or an int or byte?

    Can non-agents be attributed sin numbers? For example, what is the sin for a mosquito biting me?

    Thanks.

  • by fatalwall (873645) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:34AM (#29516109)

    how about because they purposely locked down itunes so that the only way another device can sync with it now is to pretend to be it. Dont forget apple recently tried to make a deal with palm in regards to the illegal practice of not hiring each others employees.

    Palm should not have violated the USB-IF however its anti competitive to alter your program to purposefully lock out your competitor. That is what Palm wold be filing a complaint with the US gov about.

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:35AM (#29516135)

    >I should have known that was a required qualification to post here.

    Then you should refrain from posting commentary in public about how updaters work and how things can be bricked. Thanks.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:36AM (#29516155) Journal

    Incorrect analogies, both of them.

    USB devices have both a device ID and a vendor ID. The device ID tells what interface the device has, so the software can correctly connect to it. The vendor ID is merely informational, telling who manufactured it.

    A device with a device ID corresponding to an iPod should act like an iPod. It shouldn't matter who made it. Spoofing the device ID is not against the rules. An "iPod" made by Palm should work exactly the same when syncing with iTunes as a legitimate iPod made by Apple. That's the purpose of the device ID.

    For a more appropriate analogy, think of an auto shop (gotta be a car analogy, right?). This shop specializes in servicing Dodge automobiles. You walk in and say "I need a Dodge Caravan carburetor installed in my Plymouth Voyager." Now, the Plymouth Voyager is exactly the same minivan as the Dodge Caravan; all the parts are exactly the same. The only difference is the little logo glued to it. Would it be silly for the mechanic to refuse to service your car because it doesn't have the Dodge logo?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:39AM (#29516215)

    Right! Just like Firefox should always identify itself as a Mozilla browser and not fake being an Internet Explorer one using a plug-in. If a site actively blocks Mozilla based browsers based on the ID string even if it works perfectly, well so be it. No reason for the consumer to try and hack around it. Nope, I can't think of a single reason why a Linux user might want to trick the server...

    My personal thoughts are that if Palm wants to give a bad USB ID to try and trick iTunes, let them. However if Apple changes the code tomorrow, that is also their perogative, and if it breaks Palm's connection that is Palm's problem. If it hits Apple tech support or their forums, they can just say "we don't support Palm", and if it hits Palm it would start to enter the realm of false advertising. Basically "if you want to try and hack the system go ahead, but there may be consequences."

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:49AM (#29516369) Journal

    people are obviously turn to Apple for support if iTunes doesn't sync right with their Palm. That will cost Apple money. After all, iTunes is an Apple product. Telling people, "It's the other guy's problem" never goes over well.

    If you make round plugs and round holes, and somebody complains that their square plug doesn't quite fit correctly, tell them it's not your problem. If they're not a complete retard, they'll take their problem where it belongs.

    If they bought some "round" plugs from someone else that are supposedly compatible with your round holes and it turns out they're slightly flattened so the fit isn't perfect, it's still not your problem.

    However, if the other guy's plugs fit perfectly in your round hole, and you install a camera so that theirs wont work anymore (theirs are red and yours are blue, and the hole won't open for blue plugs), claiming "someone else made them, they might not fit" doesn't counter my claim "they did fit just fine, until you modified your round hole to not accept them".

    Sorry for the awful analogy, it's the first thing that popped into my mind and I ran with it.

  • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus,slashdot&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:49AM (#29516379) Homepage Journal

    how about because they purposely locked down itunes so that the only way another device can sync with it now is to pretend to be it.

    Microsoft locked down Word so that it only uses Word dictionaries. Firefox only uses Firefox plugins. Palm Desktop only syncs with Palm products. I'm not sure you understand the requirements of the definitions of anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior.

    Dont forget apple recently tried to make a deal with palm in regards to the illegal practice of not hiring each others employees.

    ... so if a company does one thing wrong, everything they do must be wrong? I saw a guy speeding, should we also convict him for murder?

    Palm should not have violated the USB-IF however its anti competitive to alter your program to purposefully lock out your competitor.

    No, that's not how "anti-competitive" works. See, for example, the fact that Palm Desktop only syncs with Palm devices. It "locks out" iPhones. So?

    Furthermore, it's not anti-competitive to make your software follow industry-wide open, free guidelines... locking out those who don't follow the standards. Say someone started making their own HTML tags - <bork> or <glub>... Would it be anti-competitive for Firefox to refuse to render the data between those tags? Not at all.

    That is what Palm wold be filing a complaint with the US gov about.

    And they would be rightly laughed out of the US Attorney's office.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:56AM (#29516481)
    Wrong. There is absolutely nothing preventing Palm from syncing their device, using the plain text XML library that is freely available to pretty much anyone. Palm was just lazy and totally in the wrong on this.
  • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @12:03PM (#29516645) Journal

    Before: iTunes looks at what is plugged in and sees if it is an iPod (or CLAIMS to be one). Since the Pre is built to emulate an older iPod, iTunes would handle it exactly like a real iPod of the model and series it is emulating. Palm (rightly) used the Palm Vendor ID as part of that identification, and Apple ignored it. An iPod is an iPod, and if you claim to support a featureset iTunes would offer it to you. Apple isn't about to change the featureset of older iPods that are no longer available for sale, so Palm chose an older model iPod to "claim" to be, one with a minimal featureset they could easily emulate.

    After: iTunes looks at what is plugged in and sees if it is an iPod *built by Apple* (ie. using Apple's USB Vendor ID). Since the Palm Pre is not currently set up to claim it is made by Apple, iTunes refuses to talk to it.

    Apple is within their rights to make this change, no matter how unwise or unpopular that move might be.

    Palm is NOT within their rights to use Apple's Vendor ID to "pretend" their device is an iPod made by Apple. Only Apple is authorized to use their own Vendor ID, under the terms of the USB policy board. Palm, if they go that route, will be violating their terms of contract with the USB-IF and may suffer penalties for it.

    I think both companies are making a huge mistake, but the difference is that Apple has the right to make it.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @12:32PM (#29517111)
    Highest markeshare != monopoly. There are a number of criteria to be met before something can be constituted as a monopoly especially in the legal sense. The first one is the dominant player in a market. Apple with over 70% of the market qualifies to be the dominant player. Another criteria is that there must be significant barriers to entry in that market for competitors. Judging by the dozens of competing players you can find at a local Best Buy alone, that criteria does not seem to be satisfied. Even if Apple has a monopoly, that in itself is not illegal. There exist legal monopolies today. Here is where the comparison with MS doesn't work. MS was found to have a monopoly and used illegal tactics to maintain that monopoly.
  • by RedK (112790) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @12:43PM (#29517305)
    The XML file is an official, supported way of interface with iTunes. If Apple changes it, it will get documented. And it has been changed over the years, but since it's XML and change mostly involves adding new tags, everything stays backwards compatible. This is a much more robust solution than simply spoofing IDs and hope no one notices.
  • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @01:22PM (#29518045) Journal

    Apple had already written the support for various iPod models at various firmware releases. The functionality specific to a model and firmware version isn't going to change, because in order to change it Apple would need to change the iPod side of things as well.

    If, for some reason, Apple decided to update the communication protocol on whatever older iPod hardware the Pre happened to be emulating, Palm would have to figure out the new protocol and support it eventually. But the old protocol would still be out there.

    Apple can't change the protocol on iTunes without also changing it on the iPods. Which means the old protocol has to stay out there during the transition (possibly with an automatic notification that an upgrade is available). So the signature each iPod uses would change from (for example) "iPod Touch Gen 1 Firmware 1.2.5" to "iPod Touch Gen 1 Firmware 1.4.1". If a G1/1.2.5 unit tries to talk to iTunes, iTunes HAS to speak back to it in its native tongue, and anything claiming to be a G1/1.2.5 will be talked to in the same manner.

    Otherwise, they'd have to upgrade the entire product line at the exact same time, or they'd be breaking compatibility with their own devices. This has nothing to do with maintaining Pre compatibility, it is all about maintaining genuine iPod compatibility.

    So iTunes will talk to the Pre until Apple specifically stops supporting that model and firmware version of the genuine iPod, and at that point both a genuine (but not upgraded) iPod *and* the Pre will both get a "product not supported, firmware upgrade required" error.

    The difference, of course, being that the genuine iPod can get a (probably free) firmware update from Apple and still work with iTunes. The Pre would need intervention from Palm, who would have to upgrade their compatibility to a model that iTunes still does support, with all the protocol changes that implies.

    I agree that Palm *should* just go their own way and not be dependent upon Apple, but the Pre is zero effort on Apple's part. It's "unsupported" hardware.

    Adding the "Vendor ID" to the signature WAS effort on Apple's part. Fortunately for them, it was only on the iTunes side, since the iPods were already sending Vendor ID anyway. And the only reason to do that is to intentionally break compatibility with non-Apple devices, because it didn't add a darned thing to the protocol for any device (or the devices would need an upgrade at the same time to support whatever the new feature is).

    Which is within Apple's rights, but is more effort than just allowing Palm to get away it. Not a HUGE effort, true, but an effort.

  • by bonch (38532) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @01:57PM (#29518677)

    It doesn't even matter if they're a monopoly. Being a monopoly isn't inherently wrong. Abusing the power of being a monopoly is wrong, and I have yet to see convincing arguments that Apple has done that. An example would be when Microsoft punished OEMs with increased license fees if they offered computers without Windows.

  • by ConfusedVorlon (657247) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:24PM (#29519123) Homepage

    thing is the Palm Pre _is_ an ipod.

    at least, it declared itself as an ipod device and conformed to the spec to act as an ipod device.

    (Incidentally - in the original setup, it declared itself as an ipod that was made by Palm)

    Given that USB (Universal Serial Bus) was intended to allow devices to plug and play, it is bad form at the least for apple to deliberately disable it.

    How would you feel if Microsoft disabled USB keyboards that were manufactured by other vendors?

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:05PM (#29521935)

    You don't understand the arugment[sic]. Does Apple have a monopoly on DRM Fairplay media?

    That's not a relevant market with regard to antitrust law, the only aspect of law that makes Apple's actions potentially illegal.

    The term is "significant barrier" to entry in the marketplace. The fact that others can and have created other online stores negates your arugment[sic] that Apple has a monopoly.

    That's not how monopolies are defined.

    Amazon has quite a successful online store.

    Amazon and all other competitors combined are half the size of Apple alone. That's not particularly successful in terms of markets. This means Apple has a lot of influence on music buyers. If, for example, they were to blacklist an artist that would be a serious threat to that artist's ability to make money distributing music (not that the RIAA isn't already the same.

    You can load nonDRMed AAC onto a Palm Pre.

    You can run Windows programs in WINE. That does not negate the possibility that the digital music market is being leveraged. It doesn't have to be impossible to be a breach, it just has to make it harder for people who don't use Apple's product in a separate market.

    Other OS's exist for the PC however none of them have been able to gain anything in the marketplace. Some of this was to due to tactics by MS.

    This is actually irrelevant to antitrust law as it applies here because it is perfectly legal to gain a monopoly via several methods. Apple isn't being accused of illegally maintaining a monopoly, just leveraging the monopoly into another market.

    Huh? Palm is free to write an iTunes plugin to sync up with their Palm devices.

    They are, but not with the same APIs Apple uses and without the same level of functionality. Don't you think if Palm could get the same level of functionality using a plug-in they would have done it? Do you think they'd be risking censure from the USB committee if they had an easy way to compete evenly with the iPhone? The point is, right now iTunes the program is the interface to iTunes the store and plugging in in iPhone and plugging in any other device results in different functionality within iTunes. If iTunes constitutes a monopoly, which it well could, that is clearly tying.

    You said: Apple is potentially leveraging their influence in the online digital music sales market to gain a competitive advantage in the smartphone market.

    The fundamental complaint here is both Apple and Palm are competing in the smartphone market. Both want to deal with digital music and Apple is dominant in the digital music market. To compete fairly palm needs to be able to have the same access to the iTunes store as the iPhone does and they claim that is impossible given what Apple has presented as public APIs so they hacked a work around. The illegality of Apple's actions hinges on two things:

    • Apple's share of the relevant market for online music being sufficiently large in a jurisdiction for competition laws to apply.
    • Apple's third party interface to iTMS being inferior to the one Apple uses with the iPhone.

    From where I'm sitting the first is probable in some jurisdiction and about 50/50 proposition in the US. The second seems fairly certain or either Apple or Palm would have used the third party interface and solved all potential issues like this.

  • by indiechild (541156) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:28PM (#29523093)

    Explain how you are forced by Apple to use only the one store for your music purchases.

  • by RivieraKid (994682) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:14PM (#29530621)

    Let me repeat the part that *you* missed. iTunes is there to manage the iPod and iPhone. The fact that you can use it without any other Apple product is irrelevant. You can take the music you download and use it with any other media player that supports the format. How exactly is that anticompetitive? They have plenty of competitors both in terms of the hardware and music store. The fact is, Apple are successful. If iTunes somehow prevented you from using your third party music player at all, that would be anticompetitive. If they prevented you from using another music store, that would be anticompetitive. If they converted all your mp3s to DRM'd AAC that can only be played on an apple device, that would be competitive. Providing, for zero cost, to anybody in the world, software designed to manage the music on music players manufactured by Apple that also has significant additional functionality that does not require you to purchase their hardware is NOT anticompetitive. Deal with it.

Imitation is the sincerest form of plagarism.

Working...