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Handhelds Media (Apple) Apple News

Palm Ignores USB-IF Warning, Restores iTunes Sync 656

Posted by kdawson
from the gauntlet-firmly-on-floor dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Palm's cat and mouse game with Apple continues. Ignoring the warning from the USB Implementers Forum, with its WebOS 1.2.1 release this morning Palm has restored iTunes media synchronization in its new Pre smartphone — and gone so far as to extend sync to photos. And, according to Digital Daily, it has done this, once again, by using Apple's USB vendor ID. Does the USB-IF have any recourse here? Does Apple?"
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Palm Ignores USB-IF Warning, Restores iTunes Sync

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't get why so many people who are against action like this keep buying Apple products. Of the people who are going to respond to this, I know that a large portion of them will have a MacBook, a larger portion will have an iPhone, and an even larger portion will have an iPod.

    If you dislike their business behavior, do your duty as a responsible consumer and don't buy from them.

  • I remember (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @01:39PM (#29628757) Homepage Journal

    I remember a time when it was legal to reverse engineer things for compatibility purposes. (Was a long time ago... the 90s, perhaps?)

    I lot of people are complaining the Palm thing smacks of fraud, but it is no different than telling Microsoft Word that the document is opening was made by Word instead of Open Office for compatibility reasons.

    Also, the argument that Apple needs to break compatibility in order to protect itself is complete bullshit. If my Palm doesn't sync with iTunes, I'm going to bitch about it to Palm. Nobody expects iTunes to work.

    • Re:I remember (Score:5, Informative)

      by RedK (112790) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @01:48PM (#29628825)
      The fact is compatiblity is already present. Apple allows 3rd parties to sync the iTunes library to their devices and it does it in a documented and supported way. Palm is just deciding to ignore all this functionality and they are breaking the USB spec to do it, just so they can save a few bucks. Now it has gone as far as the USB-IF commenting that Palm is breaking their license agreement (or contract), which in and of itself is illegal. Next step is probably to revoke their license to use and display the USB name and logo on their product's marketing material.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        right - but why should Palm have to sync by apple's supported (and less good) route.

        by appearing as an ipod, the Pre gets a much smoother sync experience. It appears right in iTunes in the bar on the right. I don't need any extra software.

    • Re:I remember (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Idbar (1034346) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @01:50PM (#29628847)
      You're right, proof of that is that IE and Safari still add the string Mozilla to their User-Agents.

      If that ensures compatibility, of Palm's products, I guess they are making the effort to keep their customers happy (even though iTunes, at least for Windows, is the worst piece of software ever).
  • it has done this, once again, by using Apple's USB vendor ID

    Rather funny to see this article right after "Identity Theft Is Usually an Unsophisticated Crime".

    Whether it is a crime, I'm not so sure.
    After all Apple is just about inviting this type of solution.

    • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:15PM (#29629673)

      After all Apple is just about inviting this type of solution.

      How exactly is Apple inviting USB spoofing when they already have a fully functional, documented API and plug-in framework to be used for the purpose of syncing 3rd-party devices?

      Rabid Apple haters are just as ridiculous and illogical as extreme Apple fanbois; they've just chosen the opposite extreme. Either way, you're throwing good sense out the door in order to pretend the world really is how your suppose it is (either Apple is always evil or Apple can do no wrong).

      This forum sure contains a lot of ridiculous and close-minded people for a group that fancies itself to have above-average intellect.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by prockcore (543967)

        How exactly is Apple inviting USB spoofing when they already have a fully functional, documented API and plug-in framework to be used for the purpose of syncing 3rd-party devices?

        They don't have either one. What they do have is a XML-based storage format. Palm would have to write their own syncing software to read/write from this XML format. You would have to have that software running separate from iTunes. It is impossible for Palm to write a plugin for iTunes to allow it to sync with their hardware.

  • This again... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ZackSchil (560462)

    Apple's concern is that the Pre shows up in iTunes as an iPod and people have been calling them about problems with the Pre.

    That's both a trademark violation and annoying. Imagine how pissed Microsoft would be if a device maker had their device show up as a Zune to the Zune software and they kept getting support calls about some 3rd party device.

    Yeah, yeah, it is funny that Apple is getting their first taste of how irritating it is to be the big bad guy, but it's not really fair because unlike Microsoft, th

  • by rlp (11898)

    I'm a fan of Palm and REALLY want them to succeed, but they seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot. Syncing with ITunes was a clever hack, but why didn't they simply cut a deal with another company. I'm sure Amazon would have been delighted to work with them to make their music store (non-DRM'ed MP3's) accessible to the Palm Pre. For that matter they could have added Audible audio-books, and Kindle e-books too. Then Palm seems determined (per recent Slashdot articles) to prevent developers from

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZackSchil (560462)

      Or just write your own damn sync software that can read off the iTunes library as well as other sources! This isn't rocket science. Then their much touted feature goes from "clever and constantly breaking cat-and-mouse hack" to supported by Apple.

      Reading the library is dead simple. It's plain XML that has been extended gracefully but not fundamentally changed in years. It's also well-documented.

  • Apple iPod Video, according to usbdevs. What do Apple do now? Blacklist their own product or get sneaky? IMHO, Palm are doing us no favours here. What is most likely to happen next is a DRM-esque key exchange between iPods and iTunes, which will not only bugger up the Pre's sync to iTunes feature permanently, but syncing iPods to OSS applications will more than likely be the collateral damage.

    If they wanted to be really nasty, they could probably brick a connected Pre in the process of updating Apple fir
    • by 3vi1 (544505)

      >> Here, have some firmware before we talk again

      The Pre says: Thanks! I'll send that to /dev/null... now let's continue.

      Nothing about the Pre's iTunes sync process is going to allow you to update it's firmware.

  • by gordguide (307383) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @02:29PM (#29629213)

    I see most comments here are taking the bait and going with what (I'm sure) Palm wants the debate to centre around.

    In no particular order, and not to single anyone out, but just to illustrate:
    " ... Microsoft was intentionally sabotaging their own software to look for specific string, and if found cause applications to fail. ..."
    " ... Or take the easy way, and just introduce proprietary extensions to the protocol, that won't be revealed to third parties. ..."
    " ... I remember a time when it was legal to reverse engineer things for compatibility purposes. (Was a long time ago... the 90s, perhaps?)
    I lot of people are complaining the Palm thing smacks of fraud, but it is no different than telling Microsoft Word that the document is opening was made by Word instead of Open Office for compatibility reasons. ..."

    And so on ...

    This is not reverse-engineering. This is not circumventing proprietary extensions. This is not hiding code and hunting for it within applications.

    This is a Hardware Device ID assigned by the organization that licenses a technology and insures those who use that technology do so in a way that won't, for example, cause a fire, since USB carries power.

    The ID is not secret. You can get the hardware device ID of every manufacturer's product from a number of sources, including doing a Properties/Get Info on all the hardware connected to your computer. Software on your device can poll the 3rd party device for the ID string, to, say, load the right driver, or whatever.

    " ... Apple's concern is that the Pre shows up in iTunes as an iPod and people have been calling them about problems with the Pre. ..."

    A post that is much closer to the point. But, we can take it further than that. That post was an example of what could go wrong, with everyone who supports USB. Aside from the fact that this is the highly charged Apple/iTunes/iPod vs The World spin, it's really not about Apple at all.

    Many posters have commented (quoted above) about how Palm vs iTunes could play out. And, I'm sure, some of that will come about sooner or later; Palm seems intent on forcing it along with more than a few others. Whatever.

    But, it's the method Palm chose that is the real problem. The USB Implementers Forum sees this as the wedge that breaks USB compatibility everywhere. If Palm gets away with this, every offshore vendor gets away with it too. USB Cameras made by some unheard-of offshore vendor now report to Canon software as Canon cameras. Any and all hardware that uses USB can now be spoffed by offshore knock-offs. Support issues, as mentioned by a poster here, are real concerns amongst every hardware vendor and cost real money.

    Some of that may already be going on, but to have a member of the Forum thumb their nose at the terms of those who insure USB "just works"?

    Which is why the USBIF will not let Palm get away with this for much longer.

    The questions then becomes what do the USBIF do, and why is Palm insisting on taking this road instead of another? It has as much potential to harm Palm, as a hardware vendor, as anyone else, including Apple.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2009 @05:18PM (#29630719)

      If Palm gets away with this, every offshore vendor gets away with it too. USB Cameras made by some unheard-of offshore vendor now report to Canon software as Canon cameras. Any and all hardware that uses USB can now be spoffed by offshore knock-offs. Support issues, as mentioned by a poster here, are real concerns amongst every hardware vendor and cost real money.

      Is that really a problem? If the offshore products are shoddy, people won't use them. If they work well enough, then they work well enough. This isn't about selling the Palm as an Apple iPod.. it's about leveraging the capability of the user's existing software. Palm is not being being advertised as an Apple iPod. Palm is not recommending people complain to Apple about problems with the device, and Apple has no requirement to support it. This isn't about a small no-name company trying to sell an Apell EyePod, after all.

      I personally don't see this as any different than a browser spoofing its ID as IE or Firefox to make webpages display right/better, a mouse spoofing its ID to be "Logitech compatible", or Linux spoofing its ID so BIOSs will provide the proper functionality. Obviously iTunes is disabling functionality simply because the the vendor/device ID don't match certain blessed numbers, otherwise Palm would not need to be doing this. All Palm is doing is spoofing those numbers so iTunes won't disable that functionality, and they apparently do enough testing to make sure their product works as advertised.

      Apple may not be a monopoly, and this may not run afoul of anti-trust laws, but it reeks of monopolistic (new word?) behavior. Palm's products are functional, and Apple is purposely trying to make them non-functional, for no valid reason.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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