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Palm Pre "iTunes Hack" Detailed By DVD Jon

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the role-playing-game dept.

Handhelds 338

CNETNate writes "As the reviews of the Palm Pre start to roll in, DVD Jon expands on previous coverage of the Pre showing up in iTunes as some sort of an iPod, by publishing the offending code Palm has used to enabled the feature. As suspected, in regular USB mode, the phone addresses itself as a standard peripheral. But in 'Media Sync' mode, it claims to be an iPod ... from a vendor known as Apple."

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DMCA ??? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212073)

violating DMCA with a consumer product.....tsk...tsk. shows you how stupid the law is, though.
as for the pre ....
less megapixels than a samsung pixon. less intuitive than an iPhone. LAME.

Re:DMCA ??? (5, Funny)

Gay for Linux (942545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212289)

Their trick, in other words...

Pre: "Knock knock"
Windows: "Whoâ(TM)s there?"
Pre: "iPod."
Windows: "Cool, come in. Hey iTunes, Iâ(TM)ve got an iPod for you."
iTunes: "You donâ(TM)t look like an iPod but if Windows says you are, thatâ(TM)s good enough for me. Smoke some of this music."
Pre: "Kickass."

Re:DMCA ??? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212461)

Ugh, the text encoding in Windows is terrible.

Re:DMCA ??? (2)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212559)

Well,

All Apple has to do is ROT-13 their handshakes. Then, if Palm does the same? It's now a DMCA violation.

On a less frivolous note, perhaps this is the case that will cause the DMCA to crumble, as a possible court battle that pitches anti-competitive practice against technological copyright enforcement.

Poor Open Source (2, Insightful)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212091)

Inevitably Apple will move to block this, making the next model of iPods that much harder to use with open source software.

Re:Poor Open Source (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212241)

Or maybe Palm is angling for something :-)

Re:Poor Open Source (1, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212351)

Whereas the current generation of iPods is usable with open source software? Gimmie a break dude. If you can get my goddamn Nano 3G to work with Linux, you can have it.

(That's right, a free iPod Nano!)

Re:Poor Open Source (1)

urban_warrior (1001615) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212615)

done deal

Re:Poor Open Source (3, Informative)

keeegan (1526067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212661)

Re:Poor Open Source (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212787)

looks like MrEricSir is down one iPod Nano.

Re:Poor Open Source (2, Interesting)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212835)

Whereas the current generation of iPods is usable with open source software? Gimmie a break dude.

Hell no it's not, but my 4G Photo worked just fine. Since I replaced it with an 80GB model, I've been cursing the purchase ever since.

Re:Poor Open Source (1)

ailnlv (1291644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212843)

banshee? amarok? gtkpod?

Oh, sorry, you said 3G nano. Then please follow the link -> http://lilserenity.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/virgin-mobile-praise-ubuntu-and-ipod-nano-3g/
and scroll over to where it says "THIS IS ONLY NEEDED FOR iPOD NANO 3rd GENERATION or iPOD CLASSIC MODELS (FALL 2007 MODELS)" in a very lame all caps way.

When can I have my iPod?

Re:Poor Open Source (5, Insightful)

ohcrapitssteve (1185821) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212807)

I've never seen the rules one should follow when releasing a device that might end up in millions of hands, but I'm sure they include the following:

1) Don't use an unstable hack to enable a feature that a very large percentage of potential users will be counting on.
2) Don't base a feature on a cat-and-mouse game. Especially with the likes of Apple, who are really good at that particular game.
3) Don't meddle in the affairs of a patent dragon, for thou art tasty and good with ketchup. Jobs was bragging about patents in the iPhone announcement keynote, for Christ sake.

How Long Before Apple Files a Lawsuit? (4, Insightful)

kipin (981566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212103)

I can't imagine a major competitor to the Apple iPhone will be allowed to do this without a lawsuit smacking them in the face. Then again, perhaps Palm wants a lawsuit to bring additional media attention to their device.

Seems like a risky move by Palm, their entire future most likely rests on this device. Without it succeeding the risk of Palm going under are pretty high. Might as well shoot for the fences I guess.

Re:How Long Before Apple Files a Lawsuit? (5, Funny)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212175)

I very much doubt this was orchestrated in order to gain publicity. Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by a rogue engineer who wanted his phone to work with iTunes.

Re:How Long Before Apple Files a Lawsuit? (4, Informative)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212317)

They may be hit with a lawsuit, but if Palm did their job right, they'll escape scot-free same as Compaq did in the early '80s.

Umm... why the fuss? (5, Informative)

exhilaration (587191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212367)

Why would Apple sue over this? On what grounds? There's no copy protection being circumvented, no cryptography being broken, it's a plaintext response. Also remember when that when Apple suggested legal trouble [boingboing.net] for Palm, Palm suggested that they wouldn't hesitate to strike back [boingboing.net] with their own patent portfolio. I can't see either party taking anything to court.

Re:Umm... why the fuss? (2, Insightful)

ITJC68 (1370229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212717)

I agree. This would mean more revenue for Itunes. You don't have hardware lock in.... Oh that is anti Apple thinking there..... The only tangible reason Apple would sue is this would be in direct competition with its overprices Iphone. Plus you would not be locked in to AT&T or is AT&T the only vendor that will have this phone too?

Re:Umm... why the fuss? (1, Funny)

d'fim (132296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212829)

Right now Verizon has exclusive rights to the Pre.

Re:Umm... why the fuss? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212769)

I'm pretty sure that they both know that in the end Apple would come out ahead in any legal battle. If just by the size of their coffers. But Palm doesn't want to go down that road. Apple doesn't either.

Antitrust? (5, Interesting)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212115)

Apple could sue, and Palm could counter-sue with antitrust claims. After all, Apple does control most of the music market via iTunes.

I vaguely recall a lawsuit where Apple was sued for limiting the iPod to only iTunes (Apple won), but I don't think anybody has challenged the reverse (using something else with iTunes) in court.

Re:Antitrust? (1, Informative)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212233)

In order to gain a successful antitrust verdict you need to be something of a monopoly (which iTunes and more generally Apple clearly isn't).

There is no law that forces your products to work with other people's products - although perhaps there should be!

Re:Antitrust? (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212433)

In order to gain a successful antitrust verdict you need to be something of a monopoly (which iTunes and more generally Apple clearly isn't)

What makes you say that? A quick google search shows most sites estimate iTunes market share as between 50% and 70% of the legal downloads market. That's comfortably enough for most regulators to consider it a monopoly.

Of course being a monopoly isn't illegal. It only becomes a problem when you try to use your monopoly in one area to create or expand a monopoly in another. Say like taking a monopoly in digital music sales and using it to help a monopoly in digital music players? Maybe or maybe not. Still, I'd be hesitant to describe Apple's digital music business as something other than a monopoly.

Re:Antitrust? (4, Informative)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212531)

With the removal of DRM, there's no issue of monopoly whatsoever. 70% of the market is not 100% of the market; a clever player who can work a deal could get in and take over a big chunk of that.

The only issue before was the fact that anything you bought on the ITMS would only work on the iPod. While that sort of software-hardware vendor lock-in still does not constitute a monopoly--there are other stores that work with other devices--the removal of DRM means that you can buy from ITMS and play your files on anything. You might just have to take an extra step of importing your music into a different piece of software.

If anyone were to take that to court and claim that this requirement constituted a monopoly, the judge would try to say, between fits of laughter, "Buy your music from a different store and use that store's music management software. Now GTF out of my courtroom!"

Re:Antitrust? (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212389)

Apple isn't doing anything (illegal or otherwise) to interfere or prevent other online music stores from operating. iTunes popularity is due to brand loyalty, mind share, convenience, and being first.

Re:Antitrust? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212781)

I vaguely recall a lawsuit where Apple was sued for limiting the iPod to only iTunes (Apple won), but I don't think anybody has challenged the reverse (using something else with iTunes) in court.

For some time blackberries can sync with itunes. Might be licensed from apple though.

Silly Apple, silly Palm (5, Interesting)

avm (660) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212131)

Silly Apple, if it only identifies its devices via a USB identifier, but interacts with them in standard, easily emulated ways, all the while going for the exclusivity angle.

Silly Palm, for thinking Apple will take this lying down. But kudos for the balls to do it anyway.

Why is either silly (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212223)

Silly Apple, if it only identifies its devices via a USB identifier, but interacts with them in standard, easily emulated ways, all the while going for the exclusivity angle.

If it's only identifying devices in a standard, easily enumerated way - then they obviously are not going for the exclusivity angle. That part is your assertion but actual technical details seem to prove your assertion wrong.

Silly Palm, for thinking Apple will take this lying down.

I honestly don't think Apple will care much. It leads to more people buying things from iTunes after all and cements the dominance of iTunes for managing media. Perhaps they even did this in conjuction with Palm... if you think about it they would have been smart to do so.

But kudos for the balls to do it anyway.

Can't argue with that. Palm is an amazing company to come back the way they have, makes me think of the Palm of old...

Re:Why is either silly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212593)

Remember, though - Apple's goal with iTunes is less to sell music and more to move iPods and iPhones. To that end, anything that syncs with iTunes is not helping them with their iPod domination goal.

Re:Why is either silly (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212847)

Remember, though - Apple's goal with iTunes is less to sell music and more to move iPods and iPhones. To that end, anything that syncs with iTunes is not helping them with their iPod domination goal.

The Pre can play music but still not protected video...

It doesn't alter that aspect at all.

If anything though it's simply neutral to the main plan, so it doesn't matter.

Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (5, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212155)

Two points:

1) This is impossible for Apple to block. If according to USB it's an iPod, how can Apple distinguish? They can try to see if any little details are missing, but in the end any probing they do can easily be met by Palm.

Nor is it even unsafe, because the code to support older iPods is pretty stable and will not change over time - the older iPods will always be supported.

2) I'm pretty sure Apple sill not sue. What legality is there around USB identifiers? Nothing. The only hook there is the Apple string in the ID, but I don't think it's enough to put a case around. Why bother with the expense of a suit.

It's a clever idea from Palm and I applaud them for it.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212185)

But Palm wont be able to certify their device as USB unless the hack is an aftermarket hack.

Aha, one mode (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212257)

But Palm wont be able to certify their device as USB unless the hack is an aftermarket hack.

Why not? When you hit "Mount as Storage", the device acts as a bog standard USB mass storage device.

When you hit media sync, it acts totally differently. But why should a special mode of using USB stop certification when it does offer a standard mode...

Offering different options when plugging into USB is sheer genius.

Re:Aha, one mode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212347)

It is because they would be using someone else' PID &VID numbers to spoof it. Different options while plugging into USB are normal and acceptable. (Called composite devices) Using someone else' PID & VID is not acceptable. PID = Product ID VID = Vendor ID

Re:Aha, one mode (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212437)

The USB Consortium's peripheral compliance [usb.org] checklist is pretty clear on the matter. If the vendor IS you're using doesn't match the vendor on your application, you're not compliant. I don't know how this affects your ability to get a logo or a license, however.

Re:Aha, one mode (2, Insightful)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212465)

But since this isn't a USB device, or being marked as one, they neither need a logo or a license. This is just a hack to make it seem like one and there is nothing illegal in that.

I was wondering about that too... (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212537)

It's not like the USB certification is required to sell anything. It's just a way to put a logo on a box, a logo Palm does not really need. Everyone knows it connects via USB and the cable is standard...

Re:Aha, one mode (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212579)

But since this isn't a USB device

Explain? From Palm's website [palm.com] :

Connector: MicroUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed

It's plugging into the computer and advertising itself to the USB mass storage driver somehow...

Re:Aha, one mode (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212603)

Okay point taken. I was just going off someone else's post for that point. Either way, the point still stands that the issue of being USB compliant and having a logo is necessary.

Re:Aha, one mode (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212619)

Is *unnecessary*

Re:Aha, one mode (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212715)

maybe a valid trademark claim?

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212197)

They are pretending to be an Apple device. I don't think that's legal.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (5, Informative)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212293)

They are pretending to be an Apple device. I don't think that's legal.

This computer is claiming to be an IBM PC. IBM sued. IBM lost.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212589)

They are pretending to be an Apple device. I don't think that's legal.

This computer is claiming to be an IBM PC. IBM sued. IBM lost.

The DMCA didn't exist then, and syncing a Pre with iTunes can be seen as breaking a functional copyright enforcement device.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (2, Informative)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212753)

The DMCA has exceptions for interoperability.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1, Informative)

insanius (1058584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212313)

You are pretending to be an authority. I don't think you know the law.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (4, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212339)

There was an earlier case involving game carts and embedded trademarked identifiers where it was ruled that another company was allowed to use a particular trademark embedded in ROM because it was required to enable the full functionality of the game machine. So using your trademarked name as a "magic number" will not prevent others from connecting to your device or software legally. Once you use the trademark for a purpose other than identifying your business or product, it may become fair game in that other context.

If they were misrepresenting themselves to USERS as an Apple device in order to make sales (like the famous "Rollex Watch"), then they'd be in big trouble, but if all they're doing is misrepresenting themselves to the machine in order to get around some technical limitations of the software, then they should be fine.

Apple is not a Police Officer (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212343)

They are pretending to be an Apple device. I don't think that's legal.

What's the charge? "Impersonating an Apple Device"? What law is that exactly...

As I noted, the only hook is that the USB id has the word Apple which could be a trademark violation... but all the car adaptors looking for iPods have the word "Apple" embedded in order to look for said iPods. There's a strong case to be made that the string is there for the purpose of interoperability.

I don't even think it's grey enough an area to be worth a lawsuit. Did you hear of a suit filed today? Apple has known exactly how this mimicing would work for a few weeks now, you would have heard something either before or around launch.

Re:Apple is not a Police Officer (5, Informative)

Zashi (992673) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212671)

Okay, I have to set something straight. It doesn't look for the string "Apple." It looks for a 2 byte code which MEANS apple.

Re:Apple is not a Police Officer (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212733)

There's absolutely no trademark issue. Trademarks are for consumer protection. Its to stop people from assuming your product is somehow related to another. The user will never assume its an Apple device as they know full well its a Palm device. Only the machine will be confused.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (4, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212349)

And Apple's computers pretend to be running "Windows NT 4.9 Server" over a Windows network. It's not exactly out-of-the-ordinary.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212569)

Thats not specifically Apple. Thats just Samba.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (4, Interesting)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212353)

Have any laws or court rulings to show this? How would this be any more illegal than having Opera show that it's Internet Explorer?

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212395)

They aren't pretending to be apple... they're just answering a query with the expected response.

When you hardcode / lock your software to only work with one answer, then reverse engineering that answer, and emulating it is perfectly legal.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212427)

They are pretending to be an Apple device. I don't think that's legal.

Just like Apple's Safari is pretending to be Netscape [apple.com] . Neither is trying to fool consumers (which is what trademarks are all about). They are just trying to work with stupidly written software that refuses to talk to you unless you say you are from Apple/Netscape/etc.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (4, Informative)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212441)

Sega v. Accolade protects trademark infringement that is necessary for the purpose of interoperability:

Because the TMSS has the effect of regulating access to the Genesis III console, and because there is no indication in the record of any public or industry awareness of any feasible alternate method of gaining access to the Genesis III, we hold that Sega is primarily responsible for any resultant confusion.

http://digital-law-online.info/cases/24PQ2D1561.htm [digital-law-online.info]

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (3, Informative)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212269)

Well, if you read the article you would see that "the root USB node (IOUSBDevice) still identifies the device as a Palm Pre", therefore it appears that there are checks that could be put into the next version of iTunes to block this. If Apple were a bit smarter, they would make iTunes available for 50 quid for non-iPod devices.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (3, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212341)

I agree with you completely! On a completely unrelated topic...what is a quid? Is it a type of bird?

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212423)

what is a quid? Is it a type of bird?

Let me wiki that for you. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212375)

And if the users were smarter than your average Brit, they'd go to Amazon and buy the music for the same price, sans 50 quid. I guess Americans inherited their brilliance from somewhere...

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212629)

Yeah, but I still use iTunes (I'm sorry, but as a mature product it really is one of the absolute best for managing media, any media) to manage music from Amazon. Doesn't really resolve that issue. The funny thing is, this is precisely the problem Mac users used to have BEFORE the iPod; getting players to show up as anything but an external drive was a pain! That said though, I am all for an open standard on this stuff. It would make everyone's lives easier.

But that too can chage (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212401)

Well, if you read the article you would see that "the root USB node (IOUSBDevice) still identifies the device as a Palm Pre", therefore it appears that there are checks that could be put into the next version of iTunes to block this.

That's Palm being kind.

But that's a simple adjustment for Palm though if needed. Again, in the end this approach cannot be blocked without blocking legacy iPods if Palm is serious about keeping it. I don't think Apple will make much of an attempt, if any, to block it... an iTunes version was just pushed and that didn't block anything after all.

RTFA Much? (0, Redundant)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212287)

Two points:

1) This is impossible for Apple to block. If according to USB it's an iPod, how can Apple distinguish? They can try to see if any little details are missing, but in the end any probing they do can easily be met by Palm.

From TFA:
However, it is only the Mass Storage interface that identifies itself as an iPod. The root USB node (IOUSBDevice) still identifies the device as a Palm Pre (not visible in the image above). This means that Apple can very easily update iTunes to block the Pre.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212309)

Apple could probably block this fairly easily, actually, without breaking support for any of their own products.

1.)Release new version of iTunes that checks specifically for the Pre.
2.)Release new firmware for existing iPods to ensure they work with the new version of iTunes.
3.)Require a firmware update in order to work with the current version of iTunes.
4.)Require a current version of iTunes in order to access the iTunes store.

And just like that, we have a new version of iTunes that's incompatible with the Pre, which iPod owners need to use in order to access the store. Yes, Palm can release an update to re-enable compatibility with iTunes (depending on how Apple chose to handle the software/firmware changes, this could be trivial or difficult), but that seriously hurts one of their big selling points for the Pre, namely that it's iTunes compatible. No one wants a devices whose functionality breaks every few weeks (queue the Microsoft jokes).

Not gonna happen, here's why (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212443)

1.)Release new version of iTunes that checks specifically for the Pre.
2.)Release new firmware for existing iPods to ensure they work with the new version of iTunes.

You just lost me at step 2.

The fact is that firmware upgrades for older iPods are unlikely to be installed by users for some time. It could take a year or more for that to propagate.... not to mention that whatever change you make to the older iPods can more easily be mimicked by Palm than it is to put together for Apple at this point! Apple would have to dust off development kits for retired iPods of all stripes, whereas Palm just has to tweak new code with the few things that change...

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212583)

1.)Release new version of iTunes that checks specifically for the Pre.

iTunes isn't done until Pre won't run?

The only thing more sickening than Apple's anti-competitive tactics is their users cheering them on.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212329)

This is impossible for Apple to block. [...] Nor is it even unsafe, because the code to support older iPods is pretty stable and will not change over time - the older iPods will always be supported.

As Jon points out in TFA, the Pre still identifies itself as a Pre on it's root device node, even when it's in Media Sync mode, so it's trivial to block, it only requires Apple do so.

More broadly, Apple can make any scheme like this very difficult for a lot of people for a very long time, enough to make the feature impractical for casual use, which is the whole principle of DRM anyways. Apple can push firmware updates to the old iPods and make the old owners upgrade before moving on to iTunes 9, or iTunes 8.1.1.2, or whatever, but it's true they can't make people upgrade their iTunes, as long as they just use it as a jukebox and don't need the services, like the Store. But if you're throwing that overboard, why don't you use a different jukebox that actually supports the Pre legit? Like, as Jon says, MediaTwist.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212383)

2) I'm pretty sure Apple sill not sue. What legality is there around USB identifiers? Nothing.

Yet. Apple has sufficient confidence in its litigation tactics to bet a little on the chance of creating by judicial action a new legally-protected pseudo-category of the ever-nebulous legal entity called "Intellectual Property" for Apple-distinctive technical identification data. Especially if they can paint Palm's methods as a circumvention device (irrespective of which copyrights are having their protection "circumvented").

Why bother with the expense of a suit.

At the minimum, it tosses hurdles and delays in Palm's way, especially if they can finesse injunctions or an entire appeals sequence out of this. At maximum, they can extend some kind of binding IP protection to technical interface data distinctive to Apple hardware and software, sealing their hegemony. Apple has a good legal team, and those are like swords: once drawn, they become rusty unless used.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212599)

Especially if they can paint Palm's methods as a circumvention device (irrespective of which copyrights are having their protection "circumvented").

I thought the garage door opener DMCA case (as well as the DMCA's own interoperability clause) settled this issue already vis a vis DMCA violations.

I also don't see anything about the Pre being able to play DRMed .m4a files, which would be more dangerous ground to tread.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212573)

1) This is impossible for Apple to block. If according to USB it's an iPod, how can Apple distinguish? They can try to see if any little details are missing, but in the end any probing they do can easily be met by Palm.

If I was Apple, and I intended to be nasty: I would find exactly what iPod model the Pre pretends to be (should be trivial). Next, iTunes checks all the time whether your iPod needs any new software. So Apple fixes a few bugs in that iPod model. Next time you connect your iPod to iTunes, its firmware gets updated. Next time you connect your Pre to iTunes, well, iTunes attempts to install iPod software on a Pre and I have no idea how happy the Pre will be with that :-(

Obviously I wouldn't do this right now, I wait until the first million Pres are sold. If Palm doesn't sell a million of them, I wouldn't bother.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (2, Informative)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212699)

Next time you connect your Pre to iTunes, well, iTunes attempts to install iPod software on a Pre and I have no idea how happy the Pre will be with that :-(

Well, the Pre will just respond with 'sure, upload the new firmware!' and pipe it over to the Pre equivalent of /dev/null. Then it will respond with the 'upgrade worked! Thanks alot!' code.

Or, worst comes to worst, a simple update to the Pre allows it to emulate the new and improved firmware version.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212795)

Well, the Pre will just respond with 'sure, upload the new firmware!' and pipe it over to the Pre equivalent of /dev/null. Then it will respond with the 'upgrade worked! Thanks alot!' code.

I sure hope so. If the Pre takes the firmware update and burns it into the Pre firware flash, there are going to be a lot of extremely pissed Pre owners....

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212831)

Do you think Apple wants a bunch of calls from Pre users? Do you think there aren't a whole lot of them who don't know or don't care that Apple isn't responsible for it? All the users will know is that Apple purposely broke a certain functionality of their phone on purpose. That'll be awesome for Apple's PR team.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (4, Informative)

DdJ (10790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212655)

Nor is it even unsafe, because the code to support older iPods is pretty stable and will not change over time - the older iPods will always be supported.

But iPods can get firmware updates.

The older iPods will always be supported. But do you know what happens if you plug in a first generation iPod right now and don't permit iTunes to update its firmware?

All Apple has to do is put out firmware updates for all the legacy iPods (which they really have done in the past) and require those upgrades for iTunes to continue working. Apple can block this if they want to.

Which is kinda stupid on Palm's part, IMO.

You can use iTunes with other MP3 players -- I have several that still work with it. If iTunes sees a driver for your music player, it'll work with it. Palm could have done whatever they wanted and distributed a driver for their device, or they could have emulated a non-Apple device for which iTunes already had a driver (eg. Diamond Rio), which Apple doesn't have the freedom to require firmware updates for. I can understand why they didn't do the former -- they want users to be able to just plug in the devices and have them work, rather than installing device drivers. But I think it was unnecessarily risky to spoof an Apple device.

Seems Like They Could Make a DMCA Complaint (1)

mikes.song (830361) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212665)

The anti-circumvention previsions may apply, even if the system was easy to circumvent. The DMCA says there is a "prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted material." It's clear that iTunes controls copyrighted material. Palm is doing something to circumvent what may be the intended behavior of iTunes. There may be an issue, valid or not. I was at Google I/O last week, and was surprised that Palm gave an appearance on the main stage. The I was almost overwhelmed that Apple was no where to be seen. This move by Palm really seems like something that only Google would have the balls to do. I wonder if Google is perhaps behind this.

Re:Apple cannot block and it's not illegal (4, Informative)

DdJ (10790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212799)

1) This is impossible for Apple to block. If according to USB it's an iPod, how can Apple distinguish?

You didn't read all the links in the article.

It's not the case that it's an iPod according to USB. That's not what Palm did.

It's a USB device with an array of sub-devices. The mass storage portion claims to be an iPod mass storage device... but if you look at the whole tree, you can see that it's connected via a Palm device.

The Pre does not pretend to be an iPod instead of a Pre. It pretends to be a Pre with an iPod inside it. Even easier for Apple to block than I had thought, if they care at all.

Time for an open standard (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212173)

These types of hacks used to be common. Everybody had their own proprietary protocols and did everything they could to lock customers into their own high-priced peripherals. Companies constantly hacked other companies' protocols and interfaces so they could offer alternatives.

These days this is rare because now the industry knows the value of standards, open when possible. In hindsight I think Palm has the right idea in trying to interface with iTunes for media syncing.

Is it time for an open standard for media syncing?

Re:Time for an open standard (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212377)

Is it time for an open standard for media syncing?

Is it time? Yes. Will you get one? Not while DRM is still a consideration (and it's going to take a long time before they stop selling encumbered video).

Then it's time (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212571)

Is it time? Yes. Will you get one? Not while DRM is still a consideration

But DRM is not a consideration for Music any longer. Video doesn't matter, music alone is worthwhile enough to make such a standard (though include video for when companies come to their senses).

Re:Time for an open standard (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212495)

Is it time for an open standard for media syncing?

You mean... like some sort of USB mass storage protocol? ;)

Re:Time for an open standard (1)

james_shoemaker (12459) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212641)

Is it time for an open standard for media syncing?

You mean... like some sort of USB mass storage protocol? ;)

    or MTP

MTP (4, Informative)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212575)

Well, there is a standard for media syncing [wikipedia.org] , but it's developed by Microsoft and apparently not followed. Especially by Microsoft with their Zune, as they decided to ignore the standards they had created and sold to third-party developers in favor of something that only works with their software.
Mass storage mode still seems to work better. Again, Microsoft will allow watching a video on the Xbox 360 from a mass storage device but not a MTP device.

Passwords aren't copyrighted (5, Informative)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212205)

*If* this is the only way to get data from iTunes, then spoofing the model and vendor should be like the Game Boy requesting an image of the Nintendo logo at bootup. There was a court ruling back in the 90s (Sega vs Galoob, I think) that said the image was treated as a password to go through the BIOS bootup, therefore, anybody could put it in their games. This is probably a completely different ball game, though.

well now (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212221)

This device has some seriously personality issues -- either that or everyone wants to be like the Woz.

Why would Apple care? (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212447)

At the end of the day, I guess I'm missing why everyone thinks Apple would care?

The Pre isn't sold by AT&T, and in the US everyone is basically tied to long term carrier based contracts to get smart phones. So if you own a Pre, you're not going to be getting an iPhone for at least a year or two at best.

So why would you want to block the device from working with your music store at that point? There's no lost hardware sale, but if you play nice you'll keep getting music sales. Maybe if you do a good enough job with your software/interface etc. you can get a Pre user to look at an iPhone in year's time.

Re:Why would Apple care? (1)

MosX (773406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212639)

Let's say Apple successfully blocks this. Later when a person looking for a new phone walks into a store (or looks online) and asks, "Hey, does this Palm Pre sync with iTunes?" And they hear that it doesn't, they'll get an iPhone instead.

Re:Why would Apple care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212725)

Depending on who make this argument, it could actually be worse. AT&T, for instance, would definitely not want to lose market share to Sprint, and thus would likely not want the Pre to sync with iTunes. We've seen Apple reject apps based upon pressure from AT&T (tethering apps, for instance), so it's not totally cut and dry.

Re:Why would Apple care? (1)

TriZz (941893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212775)

Apple will care because it's one more feature that helps sells a competitors product/hardware. If I was in the market for new phone/carrier, Apple would want me to buy the iPhone AND use iTunes for music...not just using iTunes for music. If easy music management is something that I would like on my phone, then the iPhone would be the only choice (other music phones aren't nearly as intuitive about putting music on the phone).

I see no code here. (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212511)

Dumping the USB registers: cool.

Commentator confusing USB registers with code: not cool.

Mod DVD Jon +1
Mod Slashdot -1

Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28212549)

A vendor known as Apple, eh? Sounds kinda fruity.

{cue the Apple users are/aren't gay jokes}

Reverse Engineering? (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212609)

How could Palm know how the iPod and iTunes communicate?

Wouldn't that require some "reverse engineering" (even if it is easy to do)?

Re:Reverse Engineering? (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212851)

Reverse engineering isn't illegal. Sure it may violate someone's EULA.. so maybe somewhere in Palm there's an engineer who's not allowed to run iTunes anymore.

Good or Bad? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212613)

Is it good, or bad, to reveal Palm's trick? It only makes it easier for Apple to attack Palm's workaround and I'm not sure how that benefits the majority of the consumers.

Re:Good or Bad? (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212803)

You really think that there isn't a SINGLE Apple employee who couldn't get hold of a Pre if they wanted to, or that they don't already have one? Even in their hardware, PR, developer etc. departments? And that "revelation" was basically revealed by plugging the device in and looking at the usbid... lsusb would have done it in a single command and there are even prettier interfaces for Windows for free.

Obscurity is a waste of time when you're hoping the *designers* of a system don't realise how you've worked around it - it's like "telling" the DVD forum about the CSS hack - they already know *how* you circumvent it, but they may not know the exact method by which you discovered it (that's the bit that *doesn't* matter). The designers of any such system already know, or it would take seconds to make 10 guesses at how, and it would take minutes to actually discover how even without basic knowledge - you just run it through a debug version of iTunes and see what happens.

Don't be silly. It's like saying Microsoft don't know how people are installing pirate copies of Windows, or upping the TCP connection limit, or Nintendo not knowing how the Wii hacks work. It takes *seconds* for them to work it out once it's been revealed, even if they would never have thought of it. They DESIGNED the system, after all.

I don't think Apple cares (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212651)

When has Apple prevented other devices from doing this sort of thing? Without that history, and I can't remember of such an incident, I'm guessing people are trying to hype Palm.

What does this mean for Rosie and her 5 sisters? (1)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212735)

What does this mean for Rosie and her 5 sisters?

Am I the only one..... (1)

Ogre332 (145645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212743)

who doesn't see this as being a plus for the Pre? iTunes has got to be one of the worst pieces of software out there (be it running on a Mac or anything else).

I'm conflicted (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212827)

On the one hand, this seems a brilliant and gutsy move by Palm. On the other hand, I really dislike devices or applications that pretend to be a competitor's. On the third hand, I dislike even more that this is sometimes necessary to provide some reasonable amount of interoperability.

What would be hilarious is if during the trial they break open a Pre and there's a Nano inside. :-)

Argh, why isn't there a standard protocol? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212833)

My personal opinion is that there needs to be a documented, open specification for media syncing (media being audio, video, calendars, photos, notes, contacts, etc - all the standard phone/pda data).

The device can say what file formats it supports. It can provide an icon to the software to display. It can say if it supports photos, calendars, contacts, notes, etc.

It could be extensible, for custom media types, e.g., games that will only run on a particular device.

This would be implemented within many free media players quite quickly, so devices that don't come with their own media player will still have options for media syncing. And maybe Apple, with by far the biggest media management software on the market, will be forced to support it one day by a court decision.

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