Palm and the iTunes Mistake – Updated 3x

I have been wanting to write something about the recent issues with Palm, Apple and world of USB. The problem is, I had this idea in my head that this needed to be a detailed post, with a high word count. It is an important story after all. But, no matter how hard I tried, I could not figure out how use a lot of words to say that I think Palm is nuts. So here is the short version.

Palm wants to have their device, the Palm Pre, sync through iTunes. Palm even said it would on their own site (via Wired). The problem for Palm? Apple does not want that to happen. So, Apple has broken the ability when they update iTunes. Now, I have no problem with Apple doing that. They wrote the software and Palm can do the same.

Here is where it gets interesting…

Palm was so intent on using iTunes that they reported Apple to the USB-IF. That is the USB Implementors Forum and they are the industry group tasked with watching over the USB standard. As I understand it, Palm thought that Apple’s constant breaking of the Pre’s ability to sync through iTunes was anti-competitive and violated the USB-IF agreement. That is the agreement it’s members are supposed to abide by. Palm seems to think that by requiring two USB devices, such as a computer and lets say…. Palm Pre, to communicate, that the agreement also intends that any software must always be allowed over that connection. Talk about a leap. A giant leap. ¬†Apple wrote iTunes, marketed iTunes, and controls iTunes, but Palm should be able to use it simply because the two ends of the communication use USB? Crazy company says what?

Well, the USB-IF came back and… wait for it…. OK, a bit longer (because it’s that good)… they seem to think Apple’s actions are just fine. Now that is not worth two “wait for it” lines is it? Nope, but this is… They (the USB-IF) don’t seem to think Palm looks so good right now. Each vendor that implements USB has a Vendor ID or VID. It is meant to uniquely identify the vendor of a USB product. There is even a searchable database online so that if you know the VID you can find the vendor name. What you are not supposed to do is use someone else’s VID. That, my friends, is exactly what Palm is accused of doing. They ‘allegedly’ made the Palm Pre appear to be an iPod so iTunes would sync with it. Crazy company did what? The USB-IF now wants Palm to respond within seven days.

According to Digital Daily Palm stated:

“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.”

Ok, and that relates to Apple created software how? Consumers can do that right now, just not with someone else’s software. Just plain stupid. This is like a thief taking my credit card and then complaining the card was cancelled or stealing my iphone and complaining about battery life.


Palm’s webOS 1.2 was released yesterday (Sept. 28th) and based on an Engadget test they did not re-enable syncing with iTunes. Is that because of the USB-IF letter or because iTunes latest version is blocking it? Not sure, but my guess is Palm is holding back due to the letter.

2nd Update:

It appears that Palm has released webOS 1.2.1 and that is re-enables iTunes Syncing. This is getting stupid. I saw on PreCentral that Palm went from mimicking an iPod to spoofing the Vendor ID and now, with 1.2.1, spoofing the Manufacturer ID. It appears this patch also fixed some Exchange issues and that is great, but come on. Hey Palm… write your own software. Are you actually saying that iTunes is the best and there is no need to compete in that area?If I was a Pre owner I would be frustrated with my sync being interrupted constantly because Palm wants to argue with Apple. It’s like the big brother – Apple – had a toy – iTunes- and Palm took it. Now that Big Brother (ok, that is an interesting George Orwell remark) took it back, the little brother – Palm – is crying foul. I hope mom sends little bro to their room.

3rd Update:

PreCentral is reporting (via MacRumors) that the iTunes 9.0.2 breaks the Palm sync yet again. If you wrote this in Hollywood they would laugh you out of the room.

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