Palm Goes For the Throat in Apple Tiff

By  |  Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Pre Disguised as iPhoneApple locking you out of iTunes? Call on the USB Implementers Forum. That’s Palm’s tact as it looks to muscle its way back into the smartphone space. Its complaint to the group which manages the standards for USB alleges that Apple is misusing those standards by permitting only its own devices to use the application.

It’s unknown what may come out of it as this is basically the first time a company has taken this route in attempting to break into the walled garden that is iPod/iTunes. That is essentially what the Pre’s Media Sync does–it tricks iTunes into thinking the Pre is an Apple device.

That strategy has its pitfalls too: it very well could be against the policies of the USB governing board, but Palm is saying its the only available route because of the way iTunes is set up.

Palm has a lot riding on the Pre: many industry watchers see the device as the last hope for the company which has slowly been fading since its heyday when Palm Pilots were the rage, and its acquisition of Handspring’s Treo helped catapult it into the smartphone industry.

The company will likely again build a workaround, continuing a cat and mouse game between the two companies. Apple has shown a willingness to play for as long as is needed, so Palm better have developers on call to continue to break into iTunes when needed.

It’s a smart move for Palm to at least try. With iPods so ubiquitous, and many using it to organize their digital media, as the saying goes “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

But in the end, we all know Jobs and Co. want Apple to stay at the center of the iTunes universe, and will do what is necessary to keep it that way. Palm better be ready to be in this for the long haul.

 
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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Ununoctium Says:

    Can’t say I have much sympathy for Palm. After owning a Tungsten T and then a T5 I waited forever for them to make a phone version of the T5. They had the technology (Tungsten C) 5 years ago but totally missed the obvious opportunity. Now Apple make exactly what a T5 phone would have become. Doh!

  2. Daniel Says:

    My issue with Palm is their approach. What they keep saying is that iTunes must support them and there users. That it is unfair of Apple not to support them. That some how Palm users are locked out of the content they have purchases thru iTunes and that is a lie. Even worse they justify this stealing a competitors ID based on this lie. I might feel more sympathy with Palm if they could show how it is impossible for them to write code to get content out of iTunes but they are not. I believe the truth is that Palm knew they were a year or longer being able to provide a way that the Pre could get content, so this was the easiest and fastest way to get the Pre to market without the backend being ready. I know that they are desperate but this is very un-professional of them.

  3. Mike Cerm Says:

    I think that this whole issue is pretty overblown and pointless. Is iTunes-Pre sync a nice feature? I guess so, at least it makes for a nice bullet-point. Is it necessary, useful, or something that people will actually depend on? No.

    If you use Windows and iTunes, you should already be aware of a simple fact: iTunes is a piece of crap. It’s slow, lacking features, and Windows users have far better options (e.g., Media Monkey, WinAmp, Windows Media Player) which all sync just fine with the Pre. Not to mention you can just drag-and-drop music onto it. There’s no reason someone who’s on Windows and not using an iPhone should be using iTunes. Ever.

    The only people adversely affected by a lack of iTunes-Pre sync would be Mac users. iTunes performance isn’t so bad on OSX, and there really aren’t any decent alternatives. Still, even they’d have drag-and-drop and DoubleTwist. However, Mac owners are such a small percentage of the market, and the number of Mac users who’d choose a Pre instead of an iPhone has got to be minuscule. Palm catering to these people would be about as pointless as Microsoft porting Zune to Mac. (As if Mac users would consider buying anything other than iPods. Yeah, right.)

    While I do think it makes for interesting theater for little Palm to be chiseling away at Big Bad Apple’s walled-garden (even more interesting if it ultimately helps bring down those walls), if Palm gives up the ghost, no one will really be negatively affected.

  4. Rick Sala Says:

    Okay, isn’t Palm’s arguement here that this violates the USB standards because a device they build cannot communicate with software another company has produced via a USB connection?

    Uh, how many third party devices communicate with the Palm desktop? The few none Palm badged products that I know of all licensed the Palm OS. I haven’t tried syncing an iPod to the Palm Desktop, yet with iSync you can sync a Palm device to the Apple PIMs.

    So where is there a standard violated?

    I haven’t tried, but my guess is 98% of the HP Printer drivers don’t work with Epson printers. Maybe Epson will file next.

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