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USB-IF rebukes Palm for iTunes workaround

updated 09:55 am EDT, Wed September 23, 2009

May prevent future Pre sync support

By means of an official letter, the USB Implementers Forum has criticized Palm for using a workaround to sync the Pre with Apple's iTunes software. The letter is in response to an earlier complaint from Palm, which accuses Apple of violating its USB-IF membership agreement by deliberately blocking third-party devices through iTunes updates. The updates exploit USB Vendor ID numbers, according to Palm, in a way that breaks the "letter and spirit" of USB-IF terms.

The USB-IF disagrees, and suggests that even if there is truth in Palm's view, it "does not establish that Apple is using its Vendor ID (VID) contrary to the USB-IF's policies." The industry group argues moreover that Palm has expressed a willingness of its own to violate terms, by mentioning that it will "shortly issue an update of its WebOS operating system that uses Apple's Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring the Palm media sync functionality." Palm is only allowed to use the Vendor ID it has been assigned, the USB-IF says.

"Please clarify Palm's intent and respond to this potential violation within seven days," the group's letter adds.

If Palm is unable to persuade the USB-IF, the decision could have significant ramifications for the Pre and any future WebOS phones. The ability to sync with iTunes has been a selling point, bringing some of the convenience enjoyed by the iPhone to other devices.

by MacNN Staff



  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Gee Palm, a little too clever for your own good it would seem.

  1. njfuzzy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Dear Palm--

    If you want iTunes synching so badly, then license it from Apple. I bet with enough money, and other concessions, you could get them to do it. Oh, you just wanted it for free? I think that's called stealing.

  1. JulesLt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Write it

    The iTunes media library is in a nicely structured form, and even the database has been reverse engineered.

    Provided you don't want to sync back play count information, it should not be beyond the wit of Palm to develop - or licence from DoubleTwist - a piece of software that will sync your iTunes library and Palm phone.

    I suspect this would satisfy 90% of users.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969


    music industry blows

    Apple is a retailer of music. If apple is going to force a user to use itunes to play songs purchased through them, then whatever hardware the user uses should be able to sync with itunes. Its plain and simple. It should be like that for every music retailer, not just apple. Imagine buying peanut butter from Whole Foods, and then finding out you can only spread it on Whole Foods bread.

    Apple is the new microsoft.

  1. appleuzr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    luckyday blows

    luckyday is the new testudo.

  1. noibs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple is RIGHT and Palm is DEAD WRONG

    Amazon and others sell unprotected MP3 files that can be used on virtually any MP3 players (including iPods). The prices are equivalent or less. If you want another MP3 player apart from iPods, you have options. HOWEVER, iTunes is Apple's proprietary software that is designed to enhance iPod experience. The R&D that's gone into iTunes and the related store is extensive. No other company is willing to step up and put the dollars necessary into making software that's as good as iTunes. That's not Apple's fault. Under no circumstances should Palm or any other wannabe be given a free ride by Apple.

    And Apple IS a retailer of music--both only to sell hardware. Everyone but idiots know that going in. Don't like that? Then buy your music elsewhere.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. x user

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I don't think Apple should kill syncing with other devices, iTunes+iPod work great, make the Pre and others just not work as good, and stop being the villain. There are plenty of advantages to Apples product already. I agree that Apple is quickly becoming the new M$ with their manipulation of the music market.

  1. ADeweyan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Tough Call

    What the iPod and iTunes represent is a complete, easy-to-use music/video management and access solution -- a significant selling point of the iPod is the easy-to-use tools provided by iTunes. Apple has spent a lot of resources developing and maintaining (and, yes, acquiring) the iTunes tools.

    Palm has tried to give their users (and market to their users) the same compelling ease of use, but without the investment of developing and maintaining it. At the same time, music managed by iTunes is not irrevocably tied to iTunes (except for the stuff still under FairPlay), so even if someone uses iTunes to manage their music, that music is still available to non-iPod devices.

    On the other hand...

    Apple does not pay for iTunes development through iPod sales alone. Folks who buy music through the iTunes store support iTunes development no matter what music player they purchase (if any).

    So on one side, you have the dilution of the uniqueness of the iPod's ease of use. On the other side, you have a potential increase in iTunes store sales.

    Sounds to me like Apple has decided that a small increase in iTunes store sales is not worth the diluted brand message for iPods. They also likely believe that this is the sort of thing they've got to fight wherever it appears. If they let Palm sync with iTunes, then other companies will follow, and there might be further encroachment upon the iPod ease of use.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS equivalent

    I love how everyone says "Make your own just as good!" It's too late. Apple was able to keep iTunes as the defacto standard by making sure it was the only thing that could sync your iTMS music. Even if you now have all your music in non-protected format, most people will just stick with iTunes rather than switch to another program to manage music.

    You know, just like how you all say everyone just buys Windows and office because they don't want to change.

  1. fattychance

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think we have to consider the anti-trust aspect of the itunes store -> ipod platform.

    90% of all digital music sales happen on the iTunes store. 90%.

    We are several generations of music players in now but it is clear that itunes and ipod are the winners.

    How can any new startup compete? Once people have invested hundreds of dollars into the music through itunes, would they consider leaving? I don't think so.

    In essance Apple is being allowed to say "you can't shop at my store".

    While that may not violate USB rules and Palm is most certainly being a bad actor here....I think that various regulatory agencies need to look at the tie in. It looks like illegal bundling at this point...while initially it would have been legal that's starting to change.

    Obama's administration has made it pretty clear they are willing to interfere with buisness and Apple is actively raising their heads into these very anti-competitive customer lock-ins....I think it won't be long before they are investigated.

    I somewhat hope they are and they get slapped down a bit. It really would be better for us all.

    Still I wouldn't touch a Palm Pre feels cheap, it's screen is tiny, etc.

    I'm still considering Android phones though (myTouch).

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