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USB forum sides with Apple in Palm Pre sync dispute

post #1 of 99
Thread Starter 
In a serious blow to Palm's fight to have its Pre smartphone sync with iTunes, the USB Implementers Forum has sided with Apple and chastised Palm for violating the forum's policies.

Palm initially petitioned the USB-IF in hopes that it would side with the handset maker in its efforts to have the Pre sync with Apple's iTunes music application, according to Digital Daily. But the group responded with a letter to both Palm and Apple this week, in which it said the Pre's alleged use of Apple's vendor ID violated its rules.

"Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palms usage," the USB-IF letter states. "Usage of any other companys Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palms expressed intent to use Apples VID appears to violate the attached policy."

The letter also said that Apple's use of the vendor ID to limit iTunes syncing to proprietary hardware like the iPhone and iPod is within the rules of the USB-IF. It specifically said that Apple's actions are not "improper."

The USB-IF is a non-profit organization that supports the Universal Serial Bus and sets the standards for the hardware input. Unique vendor IDs are necessary for developing USB products.

Since the launch of the Palm Pre, the company and Apple have been engaged in a back-and-forth battle. When it first debuted, the Pre was able to sync with iTunes and transfer music from a user's library. Apple fired back and disabled the sync, only for Palm to respond. In the latest twist, the iTunes 9 update issued earlier this month again broke sync with the Palm Pre.

When contacted by Digital Daily, Palm said it is reviewing the USB-IF letter and intends to respond.

"We engaged with the USB-IF because we believe consumers should have freedom and choice in how and where they use the non-rights managed media they already own," Palm said.
post #2 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We engaged with the USB-IF because we believe consumers should have freedom and choice in how and where they use the non-rights managed media they already own," Palm said.

Wow, think of all the time and frustration and bad press Palm could have avoided if they had just "engaged" with their software development department to develop their own syncing software.

post #3 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We engaged with the USB-IF because we believe consumers should have freedom and choice in how and where they use the non-rights managed media they already own," Palm said.

Yes, it's sad to see Palm, which was once a great technology company, stoop to this level of disingenuous behavior. Well, perhaps someone will buy them, otherwise, they're doomed. (Although, I think they'd be a weird fit at Nokia.) Many parallels to Apple's corporate history, and many interesting lessons to be found in the divergences.
post #4 of 99
Firstly, Palm should just create an iSync conduit (and whatever the PC equivalent is) that uses the XML files that iTunes creates for that purpose.

Secondly, Palm should take the issue higher and argue for "reverse engineering for reasons of interoperability", which would give it a chance of winning the argument, at least in some markets. Sadly, in the EU, where they might have a better chance, they're not even selling the Pre!

Personally I believe that as Apple ship iTunes as system software, it should provide a native, built-in support for third party media syncing via a specified protocol that maybe could require licensing fees from the hardware manufacturer to use.
post #5 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Many parallels to Apple's corporate history, and many interesting lessons to be found in the divergences.

Say more?
post #6 of 99
I don't really understand why Apple doesn't license the ability for other devices to interface with iTunes. I don't own an iPod or iPhone because of iTunes. I own the devices because the devices are good, not because of the software they interface with. Lately, I am finding iTunes more and more annoying with each update.
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post #7 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Say more?

Well, there's the whole "license the OS" thing that they both got suckered into.

As is known, Palm decided to take it to the extreme of spinning it off as a separate company, lost all control of it, saw its market collapse, ...

Apple killed the clones, and the contrast in fortunes as a result could not be starker.
post #8 of 99
What is the status of Palm's hack? Does it currently sync with iT or not? I've lost track.

I seriously doubt Palm will just give up and go away. What do you think their next move will be?

One more question. When they appealed to the USB IF, WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING???
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post #9 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigawire View Post

I don't really understand why Apple doesn't license the ability for other devices to interface with iTunes. I don't own an iPod or iPhone because of iTunes. I own the devices because the devices are good, not because of the software they interface with. Lately, I am finding iTunes more and more annoying with each update.

You may not own an iPod because of iTunes, but there are many that do. iTunes exists solely as a backbone to sell more iPods and iPhones, and therefore it is in Apple's best interests to keep iTunes working with only those devices. Apple does not prohibit other devices from being used on your Mac, only that you use different software. In Windows, I cannot sync my iPod with Windows Media Player (at least natively). It's the same thing. If Apple opens up iTunes to any device, they lose their advantage in the marketplace. It may sound bad to people on here, but that's capitalism. You find any advantage you can, in this case iTunes, and use it to your fullest extent to market and sell your products. Apple makes no money off of iTunes, but they make an unreal amount of money off of iPods and iPhones, and they will never make up revenue lost by licensing fees alone. Why would they willingly cannibalize that just so we on a forum are happy?
post #10 of 99
Oh well... I was hoping the underdog would win.

So, now Palm... going to make your own software that can "sync" with iTunes?
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post #11 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigawire View Post

I don't own an iPod or iPhone because of iTunes. I own the devices because the devices are good, not because of the software they interface with.

That is somewhat disingenuous. Of course you own it because of the syncing software among other things. It is a seamless experience that you don't have to think about. It is such an integral part of the experience you hardly know its there at all. It is sort of like air; we don't appreciate it until we no longer have enough of it.

The absence of an iTunes like conduit is a glaring fault in just about every other device that needs to share data with a computer. If it was so unimportant, other companies would not be trying so hard to duplicate the experience. Palm has staked their entire business on this insignificant little thing. Of course iTunes is one of the reasons you have an iPod. You just don't realize it.
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post #12 of 99
I own an iphone, and a mac. I love the way it syncs with iTunes. I was also happy to see that the Pre was able to sync with iTunes, because it was essentially a hack. My iPhone is jailbroken and unlocked, and I've been an iPhone owner since the $499 days, so I've followed the modders v. apple tug-of-war very closely, waiting until there was a new hack before updating my firmware. I don't think Apple should make it any easier for Palm, though I also hope there is no legal action that takes away Palm's right to keep up the cat and mouse game. The fun is in the hacking. If it's banned legally, there could be a surge in the underground WebOS community, and I may need to pick up a pixi...
post #13 of 99
I would think that anyone is free to take the non-DRMd files out of iTunes and use whatever jukebox they want to load them onto whatever device they want. One can use the iTunes store without using iTunes to manage their music!
post #14 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Firstly, Palm should just create an iSync conduit (and whatever the PC equivalent is) that uses the XML files that iTunes creates for that purpose.

Nokia does this already with Nokia Multimedia Transfer software.
post #15 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We engaged with the USB-IF because we believe consumers should have freedom and choice in how and where they use the non-rights managed media they already own," Palm said.

This cracks me up.
iTunes purchases and RIP'd music can be used on the Palm Pre, no problems at all.
post #16 of 99
Well it's about time.
post #17 of 99
What did Palm think would happen? I'm still rooting for them though. I hope these 2 can kiss and makeup.

The Blackberry Media Sync app is so basic, but syncs all your iTunes playlists, songs videos etc. Why Palm didn't just do something like that, who knows.
post #18 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post

Wow, think of all the time and frustration and bad press Palm could have avoided if they had just "engaged" with their software development department to develop their own syncing software.


yep. they are trying to play this like Apple is blocking the Pre from being recognized as even attached to the computer, but it is not. I could probably also attach a zune to my macbook and it would know something was there although it wouldn't know what to do with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Personally I believe that as Apple ship iTunes as system software, it should provide a native, built-in support for third party media syncing via a specified protocol that maybe could require licensing fees from the hardware manufacturer to use.

and then Palm wouldn't pay the fees. Why should they when they can just hack in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigawire View Post

I don't really understand why Apple doesn't license the ability for other devices to interface with iTunes.

Because they don't want to and don't have to. just like they currently don't have to allow hardware clones.

Apple is about the complete package so until the law says they have to do otherwise, expect them to keep limiting itunes, the OS and yes even the app store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishan View Post

I would think that anyone is free to take the non-DRMd files out of iTunes and use whatever jukebox they want to load them onto whatever device they want.

they can and have been able to every since the first DRMfree file appeared like 2 years ago. you just have to do it on the finder level.

on a similar note, any company can write a program that reads the tag list of what tracks you own cause itunes puts it in an XML file just for this. no fees or permissions needed. Palm just didn't want to do this. they would rather, as someone else once posted, trust their user experience to another party. which isn't really perhaps the best move.
post #19 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We engaged with the USB-IF because we believe consumers should have freedom and choice in how and where they use the non-rights managed media they already own," Palm said.

as far as i know there is nothing preventing me from determining how and where i use the non-rights managed media i already own.

but it's interesting to know that palm thinks itunes is the only game in town.

i bought the car. the gas station attendant needs a package delivered. every time i stop for gas he slips said package into the back of my car. and he never asks. just pay for the delivery yourself you sneaky bastard.
post #20 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac Voyer View Post

That is somewhat disingenuous. Of course you own it because of the syncing software among other things. It is a seamless experience that you don't have to think about. It is such an integral part of the experience you hardly know its there at all. It is sort of like air; we don't appreciate it until we no longer have enough of it.

The absence of an iTunes like conduit is a glaring fault in just about every other device that needs to share data with a computer. If it was so unimportant, other companies would not be trying so hard to duplicate the experience. Palm has staked their entire business on this insignificant little thing. Of course iTunes is one of the reasons you have an iPod. You just don't realize it.

Yes, iTunes is air for me. I wouldn't know how to get along without it. Thank you for bringing that clarity to my life.

And while iTunes syncing is a convenience for Pre users, it is hardly something "Palm has staked their entire business on" working.
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post #21 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post

Wow, think of all the time and frustration and bad press Palm could have avoided if they had just "engaged" with their software development department to develop their own syncing software.


Seriously! I'm not a programmer, but how hard could it be? Locating the iTunes Music folder should be trivial. And that folder is organized in a very structured manner, so working with is should be easy. They could then either parse the iTunes XML library file to all the playlists and other info (Apple could potentially change the format of that list as a counter measure, but I think that would be less likely), or Palm's app could let you create your own playlists.

Considering all the work and invenstment in creating a good mobile device, it's surprising they got so cheap on the sync application.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Personally I believe that as Apple ship iTunes as system software, it should provide a native, built-in support for third party media syncing via a specified protocol that maybe could require licensing fees from the hardware manufacturer to use.

iTunes is no more "system software" than iPhoto or any of the other iLife apps or many of the other apps that come with your Mac. Just because it's pre-installed doesn't make it a system component that would be expected to provide some system-wide service.

The iSync frameworks and WebKit provide services that other applications can make use of. iTunes is just another application that uses those services and it does not provide any system services of it's own. There are many other 3rd party application/hardware products that access the iTunes library, Roku comes to mind. There is nothing preventing Palm from following that path.
post #22 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigawire View Post

I don't really understand why Apple doesn't license the ability for other devices to interface with iTunes.

Because iTunes is free and the money they make from music sale is nothing compared to the money they make from iPods and iPhones sales. Apple is a business and they need to make money in order to keep their R&D running.
post #23 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigawire View Post

Yes, iTunes is air for me. I wouldn't know how to get along without it. Thank you for bringing that clarity to my life.

And while iTunes syncing is a convenience for Pre users, it is hardly something "Palm has staked their entire business on" working.

I'm always glad to provide clarity, young padowan.

As for Palm staking their business on iTunes, we must respectfully disagree. Palm is trying to compete in the mainstream market against the mainstream market leader. Their behavior places them squarely in the underground, hacker, jailbreaker market. They are risking their already tarnished reputation on hacking iTunes instead of providing a mainstream solution for their customers. That is the death song for any legitimate business. The WebOS will forever be linked with the idea of marginal hacking from a second rate company. It is, unfortunately, the thing the Pre is most infamous for right now.
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post #24 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Personally I believe that as Apple ship iTunes as system software

iTunes is NOT system software.
It is simply part of the standard installed software but it is not part of the OS.
It's simple to remove and the computer will run fine without it.

Look at the MS/IE fiasco.
post #25 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

iTunes is NOT system software.
It is simply part of the standard installed software but it is not part of the OS.
Look at the MS/IE fiasco.

Not to mention, it's also available for Windows. Or so I hear.
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post #26 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Seriously! I'm not a programmer, but how hard could it be? Locating the iTunes Music folder should be trivial. And that folder is organized in a very structured manner, so working with is should be easy. They could then either parse the iTunes XML library file to all the playlists and other info (Apple could potentially change the format of that list as a counter measure, but I think that would be less likely),

They could change it but that would require rewrite of other apps (all of iLife).
Also...
-> What are the iTunes library files?
"iTunes Music Library.xml

This file contains some (but not all) of the same information stored in the iTunes Library file. The purpose of the iTunes Music Library.xml file is to make your music and playlists available to other applications on your computer."
post #27 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

as far as i know there is nothing preventing me from determining how and where i use the non-rights managed media i already own.

but it's interesting to know that palm thinks itunes is the only game in town.

i bought the car. the gas station attendant needs a package delivered. every time i stop for gas he slips said package into the back of my car. and he never asks. just pay for the delivery yourself you sneaky bastard.

Maybe Palm had as part of their business strategy to take market share from iPhone by allowing people to sync their iTunes music to Pre and so in effect say 'you get better cell carrier service and you do not lose any of your valuable music in the switch'.

I think the Pre is a good product and if it came to India would sell pretty well, but unfortunately, its only available in USA at moment, if I remember.
post #28 of 99
The device/vendor spoof has always struck me as Palm's "Plan B". Palm pressed very hard to get the Pre and WebOS out as soon as they did, and the results are impressive. As with any project on a strict timeline, Palm certainly made some compromises. Missing sync software seems like a cutback.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Palm began developing a different solution a while ago: to rely on iTunes alone is certainly poor planning. The real surprise has been Palm's reaction. Maybe, as others have said, all the hand waving was just to buy more time.
post #29 of 99
Oh yeah, Palm is all about freedom and rights. They are simply attempting to leverage Apple's innovation and investment in the iTunes Store to make their iPhone compete in its MP3 function. The only "free" they stand for is free ride. In this regard they are no better than Psystar. Pay up or shut up.
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post #30 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post

Wow, think of all the time and frustration and bad press Palm could have avoided if they had just "engaged" with their software development department to develop their own syncing software.

I think Palm knew this would happen. This is part of their strategy to get the Pre better known. There are other major phone vendors that offer software that connect to the iTunes XML file and media files, but many dont even know they exist. Being the David to Apples Goliath they get automatic sympathy despite being in the wrong.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Sadly, in the EU, where they might have a better chance, they're not even selling the Pre!

Personally I believe that as Apple ship iTunes as system software, it should provide a native, built-in support for third party media syncing via a specified protocol that maybe could require licensing fees from the hardware manufacturer to use.

Ive mentioned that as an option before. With iTunes becoming the de facto way to organize ones music I think that even with free and easy access to the iTunes files I think that it may behoove Apple to offer a limited connectivity option like the one you mention. This gets non-iDevice users into iTunes and using the iTunes Store, but then prevents them from being able to sync apps and DRM-protected video. I would think this would encourage the iTunes presence and help sway people to get an iDevice in the future so they can get full access to content.
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post #31 of 99
This could open the complaint that Apple is unfairly profiteering from iTunes dominance in the market. That Apple should allow 3rd party competitors to have free access to non-DRM iTunes files.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Originally Posted by Hattig

Personally I believe that as Apple ship iTunes as system software, it should provide a native, built-in support for third party media syncing via a specified protocol that maybe could require licensing fees from the hardware manufacturer to use.


Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Ive mentioned that as an option before. With iTunes becoming the de facto way to organize ones music I think that even with free and easy access to the iTunes files I think that it may behoove Apple to offer a limited connectivity option like the one you mention. This gets non-iDevice users into iTunes and using the iTunes Store, but then prevents them from being able to sync apps and DRM-protected video. I would think this would encourage the iTunes presence and help sway people to get an iDevice in the future so they can get full access to content.
post #32 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

iTunes is no more "system software" than iPhoto or any of the other iLife apps or many of the other apps that come with your Mac. Just because it's pre-installed doesn't make it a system component that would be expected to provide some system-wide service.

In my opinion, in 2009, it is the software that Mac users utilise to manage their media. It comes with the operating system. It's system software.

I am very sad that Apple are leveraging this situation to promote sales of their other devices, some of which users don't want (I am never paying a penny to O2 again in my life if I can help it). If I get a Palm Pre in the future because it is provided by the phone company I use and like, I would like to have the seamless experience with the media library software that Apple provide with their computers. Sadly, Apple don't want me to have such an experience, and in fact have deliberately made it impossible. In the end, the consumer loses.

iSync is not seamless. It's adequate for the task, and a reasonable tool for ~2005.

I would like to point out that back in the day, the seamless experience was a unique selling point for Apple, but that was back then, and things are different now. People will still buy iPods because they're great devices. However if they get something else, why should they be punished for buying a Mac and using the Apple provided software that comes with it?
post #33 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

In Windows, I cannot sync my iPod with Windows Media Player (at least natively). It's the same thing.

It's not the same thing. Microsoft doesn't prevent the iPod from syncing in WMP. That's Apple's doing. Any media player manufacturer is free to make their device sync with WMP (though I'm not sure if there's a licensing fee).
post #34 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

This could open the complaint that Apple is unfairly profiteering from iTunes dominance in the market. That Apple should allow 3rd party competitors to have free access to non-DRM iTunes files.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

They already have free and open access to any DRM-free content in the iTunes folders. They can even reverse engineer the iTunes XML database so that ratings, artwork and other aspects of the iTunes app can be used in a 3rd-party application with ease. Apple tweaks the XML file from time to time, but they have never encrypted it or used some funky database for content, like they do with there iPod OS.
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post #35 of 99
I think part of the reason Palm has not created their own sync application is that the company is running on fumes. Their current assets barely cover their current liabilities and most of the capital they have comes from venture capitalists, who are hoping for the Palm OS based devices to be successful enough to cause another company to make a rich bid to acquire Palm. The repeated spoofing of the vendor ID is a low cost way to keep the functionality long enough to get a buy out.
post #36 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

In my opinion, in 2009, it is the software that Mac users utilise to manage their media. It comes with the operating system. It's system software.

iTunes is not integral to the functionality of OS X. Mac users are free to use it or not.

Quote:
I am very sad that Apple are leveraging this situation to promote sales of their other devices, some of which users don't want.

This is Apple's entire business model. Apple does not make much profit from any of its software. Apple gives away for free or sells software at a cheap price to primarily drive sales of its hardware.

Quote:
iSync is not seamless. It's adequate for the task, and a reasonable tool for ~2005.

They need to make iSync work better. That's not Apple's problem.

Quote:
I would like to point out that back in the day, the seamless experience was a unique selling point for Apple, but that was back then, and things are different now. People will still buy iPods because they're great devices. However if they get something else, why should they be punished for buying a Mac and using the Apple provided software that comes with it?

I really don't understand this logic.

If you choose to buy a non iPod mp3 player, how are you punished if Apple does not directly support it? Apple has no responsibility to support products from competitors.
post #37 of 99
Yes I know. I'm saying if Apple charged a licensing fee for access to these files, people would complain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

They already have free and open access to any DRM-free content in the iTunes folders. They can even reverse engineer the iTunes XML database so that ratings, artwork and other aspects of the iTunes app can be used in a 3rd-party application with ease. Apple tweaks the XML file from time to time, but they have never encrypted it or used some funky database for content, like they do with there iPod OS.
post #38 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Yes I know. I'm saying if Apple charged a licensing fee for access to these files, people would complain.

Gotcha. It did seem that you of all people wouldnt have known that. I should re-read it.

People will always complain about something. Apple can say its support the access within iTunes itself, but if they dont want to then they can access the files freely through the OS. I dont think the EU would have a problem with that as there are a couple different options from them to choose from.
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post #39 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by stompy View Post

The device/vendor spoof has always struck me as Palm's "Plan B". Palm pressed very hard to get the Pre and WebOS out as soon as they did, and the results are impressive. As with any project on a strict timeline, Palm certainly made some compromises. Missing sync software seems like a cutback.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Palm began developing a different solution a while ago: to rely on iTunes alone is certainly poor planning. The real surprise has been Palm's reaction. Maybe, as others have said, all the hand waving was just to buy more time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

I think part of the reason Palm has not created their own sync application is that the company is running on fumes. Their current assets barely cover their current liabilities and most of the capital they have comes from venture capitalists, who are hoping for the Palm OS based devices to be successful enough to cause another company to make a rich bid to acquire Palm. The repeated spoofing of the vendor ID is a low cost way to keep the functionality long enough to get a buy out.

They are definitely running on fumes and hoping for a buyout. However, I think this is definitely Plan A. Palm has, over the years, backed off support of sync more and more. With the Pre, they finally eliminated all support of their own for sync. You can't even back the thing up to your computer and if you want to sync it with anything, you have to hand over all your information to a 3rd-party. In fact, some of the major features they've hyped about the Pre are really just their way of getting out of actually supporting sync.

EDIT: Which, actually, as I think about it, supports the idea that they are only angling for a buyout. No "messy" desktop software baggage to go with it. You buy Palm, you get the Pre and webOS, and you can do pretty much whatever you want with it.
post #40 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The letter also said that Apple's use of the vendor ID to limit iTunes syncing to proprietary hardware like the iPhone and iPod is within the rules of the USB-IF. It specifically said that Apple's actions are not "improper."

PREcisely!

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