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Palm Ignores USB-IF Warning, Restores iTunes Sync

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the gauntlet-firmly-on-floor dept.

Handhelds 656

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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Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is legal (-1, Troll)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 5 years ago | (#29628709)

Palm is doing what is necessary to provide compatibility. If Apple and USB Interoperability Forum have worked to make the system deliberately incompatible, Palm has the legal right to circumvent that, and to sue Apple and USB-IF if they continue the cat-and-mouse game.

Probably this will eventually get to court, and Apple will be forced to extend itunes interoperability to other manufacturers.

Apple does quite a lot to force incompatibility and to limit the options of their users to what Apple dictates. In their connectors, in their software, in the app store. They're going to end up with an anti-trust suit if they persist.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | about 5 years ago | (#29628781)

No where did you say why Apple has to force iTunes to be compatible with third party devices. Anti trust is not a reason because Apple is not a monopoly.

So two questions I have are, does Palm not have sync software of their own for the Pre, and what is the legal stance on one product impersonating another in this context. This isn't the same as a clone. This is a Pre telling a competitors service that it is an iPhone. Is that legal?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628809)

Apple, arguably, is a monopoly in the mp3 player space.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Insightful)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29628845)

Really ? Because last time I went into Best buy, it seemed like I could buy dozens of devices by dozens of manufacturers, and each was competing on price, features and look. And with any of those devices, it seemed like I could buy online music from dozens of sources or just buy music from Best Buy on CD which I could convert and use on those devices.

So where is Apple lacking competition in this space exactly ?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0, Troll)

langelgjm (860756) | about 5 years ago | (#29628963)

So where is Apple lacking competition in this space exactly ?

Yeah, but how many of those dozens of devices are overpriced shiny toys with fewer features?

More seriously, just because dozens of other options exist doesn't mean Apple doesn't have a monopoly. This article [pressreleasepoint.com] from two days ago cites Apple's iPod as having 75% of the MP3 player market share, and I've seen similar figures in plenty of other articles.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29628987)

So you're saying Apple has more market share thanks to a better product ? Isn't that how competition works ?

But more to the point, monopolies aren't just about market share, they are about a control position in a market. If tomorrow Apple decided to try and lock out other vendors, consumers have dozens of alternatives they can use and Apple will just be a bad memory.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | about 5 years ago | (#29629135)

So you're saying Apple has more market share thanks to a better product ? Isn't that how competition works ?

Actually I was saying that the iPod is an overpriced, shiny toy with fewer features than many of its competitors. The iPod just has that je ne sais quoi/popular cool factor that makes people want it, not because it's better on features or price.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

initdeep (1073290) | about 5 years ago | (#29629143)

s/Microsoft/Apple

see how ignorant your argument is now?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29628989)

Windows has a monopoly even though there are good competitors there giving their product away for FREE. Apple has no space to complain.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (5, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | about 5 years ago | (#29628863)

While I share your opinion that it's Apple's right to block Palm, I just want to mention that, contrary to traditional slashdot wisdom, antitrust law does not require a monopoly. It also prohibits so-called "unfair business practices". Another case where no real monopoly is needed is multi-company collusion, though I admit that such conduct has the effect of a de facto monopoly. It's a fair question to debate the morality of blocking interoperatability. I like Apple, and it seems wrong for Palm to get a free ride on Apple's work, but where would the PC world be without interoperatability and standards? Why not allow printer manufactures to block third-party ink and toner suppliers? It's not easy, and anyone with too firm an opinion on this has probably not thought it through.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29628889)

But again, Apple does offer interoperability, in a documented and supported way. Palm not using said interop mechanisms doesn't mean they don't exist. Going so far as to break the USB spec to not use the proper and documented way is getting even more ridiculous and shows that they will stoop to any low to save a buck.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (4, Interesting)

itzdandy (183397) | about 5 years ago | (#29628967)

IANAL *BUT* I do believe that Palm can legally do whatever they like with the USB-compatible ports but what they might be doing wrong is continuing to call the port USB. to be USB to must meet the specs, and palm is breaking those specs so might be in trademark violation of the USB name and logo. They could just name the port something else and maintain compatability but I done think it is legit to call the port a USB port.

Patents (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29629017)

I do believe that Palm can legally do whatever they like with the USB-compatible ports but what they might be doing wrong is continuing to call the port USB.

Unless USB-IF ties the USB patent license to the USB logo license.

Re:Patents (2, Interesting)

The_DoubleU (603071) | about 5 years ago | (#29629235)

Unless USB-IF ties the USB patent license to the USB logo license.

Or USB-IF could revoke the patent license because Palm is not following their regulations. Then Palm can be sued for patent infringement.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | about 5 years ago | (#29629171)

I think if anyone tries to enforce a "trademark" on the term "USB", they might learn what a genericized trademark [wikipedia.org] is. "USB" is the commonplace designation for that type of port, and is the recognized way of referring to-well, a USB port. I strongly doubt they'd have any luck arguing that it's a trademark rather than a generic word.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (4, Insightful)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 5 years ago | (#29629025)

If apple does offer "interoperability, in a documented and supported way" why does palm (And Linux) have to reverse-enginer the protocol that Apple use??

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Informative)

Winckle (870180) | about 5 years ago | (#29629139)

He means for other devices to sync with iTunes music libraries, which other devices can do by reading the plaintext iTunes XML database. You are confusing that with Apple's attempts to stop people using software other than iTunes to sync iPods.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

lisany (700361) | about 5 years ago | (#29629175)

Why don't they just read the iTunes Library XML file? Seems pretty straightforward to me!

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629289)

You're a genius. You should apply for a job there.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#29629305)

I have to agree. There would be only one reason for Palm to need to resort to USB ID spoofing. That would be because iTunes treats non-Apple devices differently and probably quite poorly. So in order to get the level of functionality out of iTunes, Palm has to "lie" to iTunes about what it is.

We have seen similar behavior from other vendors and software makers in the past, but quite notably in instant messenger clients and servers, web browsers and in Windows networking.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

vrillusions (794844) | about 5 years ago | (#29629169)

Link? Apple has a pretty extensive developer site at http://developer.apple.com/ [apple.com] so if there was a way for non-apple devices to work in itunes then it should be documented there. I'm not even going to bother looking because if such a document existed there would be a lot more devices that support itunes. If this interoperable standard exists then palm would much prefer to use that instead of this constant can and mouse game of changing vendor id's.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 5 years ago | (#29629301)

But again, Apple does offer interoperability, in a documented and supported way.

In a second class, highly crippled way. There is no Sync capability. No playlist support.

The fact that they can not prevent you from drag-and-drop using your computer's operating system hardly constitutes a level playing field.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 5 years ago | (#29629279)

You are largely correct, that monopoly is NOT the issue here.

Dominant market position is. So is using Dominant Market position in one industry to achieve dominance in another.

This is illegal in the US.

Apple owns 70+% of online music sales world wide. They have long since passed the threshold where regulation is appropriate. They should either open the iTunes store to other software, or open syncing to other devices with the same facility and elegance as their own devices.

As for your statement:

I like Apple, and it seems wrong for Palm to get a free ride on Apple's work

I will refer you to the huge overwhelming percentage of Apple OS software that is "borrowed" from open source.

Who is getting a free ride?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29628865)

Microsoft's not a monopoly either, but they were still accused of monopolistic practices and forced by the EU to open their Windows setup to multiple browsers (the "choose your browser" install popup). If Apple continues down this path, considering the iStore and iTunes represent 85% of all online music sales, then they too will be forced to open-up their software by the EU or the US DOJ.

So:

Is there a method Palm can use to import my iStore-purchased music into their devices, and not break the law or USB-IF rules?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Informative)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29628965)

So:

Is there a method Palm can use to import my iStore-purchased music into their devices, and not break the law or USB-IF rules?

Yes, there is, and yes, it's documented and supported, and yes, other 3rd parties are using it right now (Blackberry). iTunes keeps a copy of its database as an XML file which is kept up to date. The files themselves are stored on your hard drive and their location is written to this XML file. Any software can read in this file and then sync to any device it wants. Many 3rd parties are already doing it, be it stand-alone syncing software (doubletwist, The Missing Sync) or vendor provided syncing solutions (Blackberry's media desktop).

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

itzdandy (183397) | about 5 years ago | (#29629051)

Microsoft is a monopoly. They control an overwhelming majority of operating system installs. That is what a monopoly is. That is not to say that monopoly is always bad, just that microsoft certainly qualifies.

Microsoft controlled the choices of operating system on the entire PC industry for a time and that seals them in as a monopoly. You could not buy a complete computer that was compatible with the industries standard programs because microsoft forbid it. Apple didnt control enough market to get enough programs on the mac to change this. The anti-monopoly lawsuits have opened this up somewhat which loosens the grip of microsoft on the industry allowing choice. one of the outcomes was the default browser setting being loosened up and another is allowing a PC vendor to sell a computer with another OS without penatly.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2)

ThaddaeusV (1349439) | about 5 years ago | (#29628869)

> No where did you say why Apple has to force
> iTunes to be compatible with third party
> devices. Anti trust is not a reason because
> Apple is not a monopoly.

That sounds a lot like the arguments Microsoft used to use. Nobody believed them either. Apple seems to be determined to illustrate the consequences of a failure to benefit from the lessons of history.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 5 years ago | (#29628895)

I think the argument is that they aren't really needing to do extra work to support the Pre. The extra work they're doing is deliberately un-supporting Palm, which achieves nothing other than annoying the customers of their competition. The real question is why bother with emulating an iPod at all, surely there's a better way for Palm to do this. There must be some quite compelling reason to go with this protocol over some other solution.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing illegal about the Pre telling iTunes it's an iPod. After all, Internet Explorer claims to be Mozilla, and Google Chrome claims to be Chrome, Safari, AND Mozilla! Now if iTunes started issuing firmware hash challenges to iPods, Palm would be stuck - to answer the challenges they'd have to ship a copy of the iTunes firmware which other than being very large would also be illegal. But I guess Apple can't easily update every iPod to support that retroactively.

Really, I've really got to wonder what Apples long term strategy is here. The constant stream of stories like this have to be causing recruitment issues if nothing else. They're already being questioned by the US Govt over the Google Voice issue and now they're apparently issuing updates intended only to break interop? Despite many rumors that is something I don't recall Microsoft ever doing.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | about 5 years ago | (#29629153)

That's just it: They're issuing updates to explicitly BREAK interoperability. On two markets they have a 'monopoly' similar to MS with windows - portable MP3 players and online music downloads. That stinks of unfair or anti-competitive business practices and plenty of other random legal terms.

What if MS decided that all windows programs needed to be signed and licensed and sold through an app store they controlled?

I'm sure this will wind up in court with lots of bickering, motions, friend-of-the-court nonsense, appeals and so on. In reality we'd do better to just let the kids duke it out on the playground and see what happens. Would be even funnier if Apple implemented a hash check and palm found a collision to match it without 'stealing' code :)

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628905)

No where did you say why Apple has to force iTunes to be compatible with third party devices. Anti trust is not a reason because Apple is not a monopoly.

Apple regularly boast they're #1 and the dominant supply of digital music, to the media, to the market and to consumers. They are the monopoly when it comes to portable music players and purchases, at least in the US. Now they're abusing it. All they need to do is say "We don't support sync from other devices". Deliberately breaking what works is them abusing their monopolist position. Apple are wasting shareholder's money going out of their way to break sync. Antitrust will follow, they have been the new MS for two or three years now. Only fanbois like you seem oblivious to it. Expect them to be fighting in court for a number of years with 3 years. Fast forward 10 years, apple will be old hat and google will be the next under the radar.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628909)

Apple is not a monopoly huh?
Have you seen their market share in portable music devices?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628935)

They aren't? Find me an mp3 player that isn't an i*. What's that--it's less than 10% of the market? Sounds like the definition of a monopoly...

I don't own an iPod. Instead, I bought... (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29629069)

They aren't? Find me an mp3 player that isn't an i*.

I don't own an iPod, but I do own a Nintendo DS with R4 expansion card and a Samsung Pebble. Both can play MP3 and Vorbis.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (4, Insightful)

ezraekman (650090) | about 5 years ago | (#29628969)

You're missing the point. Palm isn't (I don't think?) trying to claim that Apple is required to remain compatible with third-party devices. Palm is claiming that Apple is required to not intentionally DISABLE third-party devices for the sole purpose of remaining the only company with a device that can sync with your software.

Look, it's one thing to unintentionally break functionality due to a change your API in order to offer new features or functionality, and because you don't want to spend your resources supporting third-party devices. But it's quite another to intentionally break them just because you don't want them to use your software.

Ubiquitous car analogy: You buy a Honda Civic and your alternator breaks. Joe's Alternators has a third-party alternator that will work fine and is cheaper/has better features/whatever, but the next time you take your car in for service, they update your vehicles firmware, and now the alternator won't work. If Honda accidentally disabled the alternator because all of their new alternators have been updated to a tighter spec, hey; that's life. But does Honda have the right to disable all third-party alternators just because they want you to buy *their* alternator? Isn't that the very definition of anti-competitive?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

starling (26204) | about 5 years ago | (#29628991)

If it isn't legal, it should be. A possible precedent would be terminals - either hardware or emulators - pretending to be VT100s.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29629001)

This is a Pre telling a competitors service that it is an iPhone. Is that legal?

No more legal than faking a MS Internet Explorer User agent string, to visit a website that displays broken pages to certain browsers.

(Once upon a time, it was necessary to fake user agent to visit certain MS web sites, if you were using particular browsers)

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#29629239)

And if you look at that MS user agent string, you'll see that IE was itself faking a Netscape user agent string...

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1, Flamebait)

icebike (68054) | about 5 years ago | (#29629163)

Oh, stop with that Apple is not a monopoly issue.

The only people who spout that line are Apple fanboys. It seems to be a mantra for them.

Note: Apple existed while Microsoft was being (and is still being) dragged thru a knothole. Therefore, Microsoft was not a monopoly either. There is no single manufacturer in any industry that has a monopoly. There is always an alternative).

Abuse of dominant market position is the issue here.

With Apple cornering WELL IN EXCESS of 70% market share of on-line music sales [wikipedia.org] they have a dominant market position with the iTunes store, and the iTunes software.

Allowing you to purchase in the store, but preventing you from syncing the music or playing it on your choice of devices is an attempt to use their dominant market position in one industry to achieve dominance in another industry.

That is illegal in the US.

Monopoly doesn't even come into it. Its not the issue at all. You can only play the underdog if you actually ARE one.

So do give it a rest with the "Apple is not a Monopoly" nonsense ok?

There is no law against one machine lying to another. There is no allegation of theft, or attempt to defraud.

All there is is Apple treating some of their customers like second rate citizens. The black customers forced to sit in the back of the the technological bus.

So yes, Apple will be forced to stop restricting sync to its own devices only. Or they will have to document, license and publish the protocol to purchase from the iTunes store. Its just a matter of time.

You can not hold 70% share and still claim you are exempt from regulation because you have not yet achieved perfect monopoly.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

Cyberllama (113628) | about 5 years ago | (#29629231)

Palm has it's own software but the iTune compatibility is merely a convenience for it's users. In short, Apple tries to lock up people into their product universe and iTunes is one of the ways they keep you. It's hard to switch over from an Apple device to any other because it's a giant pain to swap from iTunes to some other sync software. The reason why Apple goes to these lengths to stop this is simply because this whole idea of iTunes synching is not there because iTunes is such a great piece of software (it's actually, quite frankly, one of the worst pieces of software I've ever been *forced* to use) but rather it exists because it makes it easier for people to migrate from the iPhone to the Pre.

What Apple is doing here is very much anti-competitive . . .

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629237)

people who modded parent up and perens down, i want to know what planet you're from. it's your fault apple doesn't care about interoperability: they evidently don't have to. thanks -- i hope you're always happy with the product.

it's like you woke up yesterday or something.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 5 years ago | (#29629271)

No where did you say why Apple has to force iTunes to be compatible with third party devices. Anti trust is not a reason because Apple is not a monopoly.

Apple is large enough to be considered "monopolistic" in MP3 players, music downloads, or "consumer smartphones."

It would not be shocking if, after someone being stupid enough to sue over this, Apple wound up declared a monopoly on one or all of the areas I mentioned before.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628785)

Dead wrong bruce.

There is NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT for Apple to support Palm's products. Apple is 100% free to improve the quality and experience of their product by working with supported and tested devices. The software product iTunes does exactly that.

The hardware components, and Mac OS X generic USB support is, does, and will continue to interoperate as per the USB specification(s). This is exactly what makes it possible for any and all vendors to write their own apps for Mac OS X. It is utterly laughable for you to imply there is anti-trust here given the facts.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Informative)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29628795)

iTunes already extends functionality for 3rd parties. Blackberry have iTunes syncing, the proper way, and have had it for quite some time. Ditto for many other 3rd parties. Palm refusing to implement syncing with their device the proper way isn't promoting some kind of compatibility, it's just being lazy. And they are breaking the USB spec to do it, thus introducing non-standard behavior from a device.

Palm isn't doing what it can to provide compatibility, in fact, what they are doing is illegal in that they are breaking their contract with the USB-IF. Contract law is law, and breaking a contract is unlawful, ie illegal.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (4, Informative)

pdabbadabba (720526) | about 5 years ago | (#29628975)

FYI:

Contract law is law, and breaking a contract is unlawful, ie illegal.

We can get into a debate over the proper definition of "illegal", but the way you seem to be using it implies that, in the eyes of the law, breaking a contract is somehow discouraged as a matter of public policy. It isn't. Yes, the party you've contracted with can sue you if you breach, but the law actually goes to some lengths to permit breaches of contract to the extent that they promote economic efficiency.

From Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Nowhere is the confusion between moral and legal ideas more manifest than in the law of contract...The duty to keep a contract at common law means a prediction that you must pay damages if you do not keep it - and nothing else.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29629019)

How have you contradicted the point that breaking a contract is unlawful, hence illegal ? Even your judge agrees in that after breaking the law, there must be redressement in the form of damages. Not everything illegal is criminal. One means to break the law, the other means to break criminal law.

Law has damages; equity has injunctions. (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29629147)

Judge Holmes wrote:

The duty to keep a contract at common law means a prediction that you must pay damages if you do not keep it - and nothing else.

True, "at law" means damages, but courts of law in the U.S. are also courts of equity [wikipedia.org] . The remedy at equity is not damages but an injunction, and disobeying an injunction may land one in jail for contempt of court.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629009)

That's a bit of a simplification law-nazi. First off--to my knowledge, breaking a contract is normally a civil offense. IANAL...but I don't think that you can generally go to jail for breach of contract. Secondly--such actions may only be decided by a judge or jury--as opposed to a flat out statement that killing someone for fun is illegal. Thirdly, it's highly unlikely to be illegal to break any given contract--as almost any contract I've seen signed in my life has terms and conditions that are flat out illegal or unenforceable in my state (and many others I've lived in). They circumvent this with severability clauses--but it technically does enable me to break...parts of the contract.

On top of that, any contract which is deemed in bad faith, unconscionable, or any number of a variety of things is just...pretty much thrown out. What were the terms of the contract to get into this group? Was an open standard created and an organization refused to permit membership unless a corporation gave up basic rights? Would such a contract be enforceable wherever Palm has their headquarters located?

Just because you want people to be able to give up the ability to innovate by signing a piece of paper doesn't mean it's that simple. And providing a third party, less functional API that exposes less functionality isn't exactly what most people would call promoting compatibility. You want compatible products--use the public APIs with your own s/w. Saying there's an API for palm is like giving me HTML access and saying I can still write a desktop application for your platform with that API.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29629057)

breaking the spec and non standard behavior? They are just faking an ID. This isn't making the USB do something weird. I mean against the rules maybe but I wouldnt call it standard breaking and certainly the only behavior it produces is the sync functions rather than doesn't.

Lots of programs pretend to be other programs for functionality. Reverse engineering is ok and i don't think USBIF will care.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

itzdandy (183397) | about 5 years ago | (#29629083)

they are not breaking a contract
"Palm isn't doing what it can to provide compatibility, in fact, what they are doing is illegal in that they are breaking their contract with the USB-IF. Contract law is law, and breaking a contract is unlawful, ie illegal."

if you choose to take 99% of a standard and implement it differently that is ok. They may be violating trademark using the USB logo and name but there is no contract that they must honor.

Palm doesnt want to pay a license to connect a Pre to iTunes. Blackberry pays that license. Why should they pay a license so that customers can access data that they have already paid for? Especially when there is no technical limitation? only an ID that needs changed.

Keep in mind that customers install iTunes to buy media from Apple. iTunes is not a product that enables them to play their music. This is not a MSSQL server license where the product is the data store and you must license for the data store, this is a downloader that is provided for free.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 5 years ago | (#29629125)

Changing my MAC address on Ethernet ports doesn't break the Ethernet specifications, but it does go against the standard address allocation layed out by the IEEE (or whomever splits the address blocks between vendors). Maybe USB has these two schemes within the same umbrella organization, but for me there seems like no reason to be so.

I don't know the ins and outs of why Palm had to take this step to be interoperable (if the 3rd party license cripples their field of use for instance) but they did, and I don't see how this could be considered 'illegal' in any definition. They will at the worst be in violation of the USB consortium's rules. If they loose their status to sell USB, it'll mean that any applicable USB treaty patents could be used against Palm in court to stop them from selling the equivalent of 'USB'.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Informative)

vadim_t (324782) | about 5 years ago | (#29628797)

I don't think the USB-IF deserves that much blame.

While I appreciate what Palm is trying to do here, USB devices are supposed to identify themselves by the allocated manufacturer number, and it's common in my experience at least to have drivers locate the right device by checking manufacturer and device IDs.

Manufacturers using whatever IDs they like can result in collisions in the namespace, which will result in things like crashing and malfunction sooner or later.

Note also that my mouse uses the Logitech manufacturer ID, though it's a completely standard mouse that works with the standard USB functionality. It doesn't pretend to be made by Apple, or whichever company made the first USB mouse.

Bus 002 Device 005: ID 046d:c03e Logitech, Inc. Premium Optical Wheel Mouse
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 046d:0990 Logitech, Inc. QuickCam Pro 9000

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29629187)

Matters may have been quite different if Windows checked the mouse's Vendor ID and refused to activate by default a standard mouse or keyboard with a vendor's ID other than Microsoft's.

Or if the Phoenix or Asus BIOS image was designed to only recognize keyboard or mice with a certain vendor id.

Yes, the third party KB and Mouse vendors could have eventually developed their own software (software not popular or included by default as most users' setups), but it would be so inconvenient to computer users, that the manufacturer would be likely to spoof Microsoft's ID.

Banning hardware for interoperating based on Vendor ID, when there is no technical reason for it (e.g. the profile is the same, the same 'standard' mouse/kb driver without the arbitrary restriction is just fine for the other vendor.). Is a sure path to seeing vendors want to spoof each other.

The USB-IF and Apple are dragging themselves into a trap. Palm is just the first high-profile vendor to be doing this. You can be sure there will be other devices doing the same, eventually.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Interesting)

Mike Rice (626857) | about 5 years ago | (#29628861)

Actually, neither is criminal. No law was violated... (IANAL, so just kick me if I'm wrong and I'll go back to my X-Plane).

Palm HAS violated a 'gentlemans agreement' with the USB-IF.

Just because you don't agree with Apples actions, does not make Apples actions criminal.

It seems that you are prioritizing...
Palms money grubbing desire to make a profit off Apples work over...
Apples money grubbing desire to make a profit off Apples work.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29628913)

Use of the USB logo and USB name is trademarked and requires a license. This is more than a gentlemen agreement, it is a contract and is protected under contract law. Breaking a contract is in fact illegal unless provisions are made and respected about for breaking it.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629031)

there is nothing "illegal" about breaking contracts. you just have to pay restitution if you breach a contract.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 years ago | (#29629315)

there is nothing "illegal" about breaking contracts. you just have to pay restitution if you breach a contract.

Please engage your brain - you can't force anyone to pay restitution unless there's legal recourse to apply such force. C'mon, exactly how do you think this process works without the force of law - company A is supposed to send its goons over to "visit" company B's boss?

In a nearby city here in Washington state, we just had a judge order that city's teachers to go back to work because they were striking and their contract contained a no strike clause. If breaking the contract wasn't illegal, why was a judge involved?

"This mode is not USB" (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29629245)

Use of the USB logo and USB name is trademarked

Then while the Pre is in iPod emulation mode, it could display the USB logo under a prohibitory sign [wikimedia.org] . That would indicate that this mode is not USB (in the sense that GNU's not UNIX), even if it is still compatible with USB.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29628973)

If Apple and USB Interoperability Forum have worked to make the system deliberately incompatible, Palm has the legal right to circumvent that, and to sue Apple and USB-IF if they continue the cat-and-mouse game.

Unless Apple considers it a DRM/Access control technology that effectively controls the sync capability and helps protect the copyright works against being synced to non-Apple-authorized devices.

When it comes to Access control and Rights management type technologies, the DMCA helps assure against other companies having a "right" to circumvent.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | about 5 years ago | (#29629063)

Criminal? Have you entertained the possibility that neither are doing anything illegal? It sounds like what you're saying is that Apple is relying on the DMCA somehow, and Palm is in the clear under the interoperability provisions (although that still wouldn't mean Apple is doing anything wrong). At most, I suspect Palm is violating whatever agreements it has with the USB-IF, which probably requires conforming to certain standards in exchange for use of its trademark.

Personally, I'm curious why Palm is adopting this tactic. A number of people have mentioned that Apple provides some form of syncing API for iTunes? What is the disadvantage of that which leads Palm to this sneakier technique?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29629247)

Simple solution... Palm can stop using the USB logo on these units, and use a picture of the physical connector instead, or something such as that.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 5 years ago | (#29629065)

Please guys, mod him down for not knowing what he is talking about.

The iTunes database is available in plain straightforward XML format. On a Macintosh, you can read that database with two lines of code and get either an NSDictionary* or a CFDictionaryRef; the code for CFDictionaryRef is part of Core Foundation and open sourced. That database contains _everything_ about your iTunes Library. The music files are plain MP3 or AAC files. Apple wrote software that can sync the iTunes Library to Apple hardware, Palm can do the same for their own hardware.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

omkhar (167195) | about 5 years ago | (#29629107)

Palm has circumvented the published API for doing this (for god knows what reason). And they've done so by "faking" a USB VENDOR ID.

Why not just used the published method as BlackBerry / RIM does?

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629137)

I don't think you understand the concept of (or law surrounding) anti-trust.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (1)

zieroh (307208) | about 5 years ago | (#29629159)

Palm is doing what is necessary to provide compatibility. If Apple and USB Interoperability Forum have worked to make the system deliberately incompatible, Palm has the legal right to circumvent that, and to sue Apple and USB-IF if they continue the cat-and-mouse game.

This indicates, Bruce, that you have a very tenuous grasp on the fundamental rules that USB devices must follow.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 years ago | (#29629195)

One way for Palm is to have the USB id configurable by the user, which means that the user can change to the Apple ID at will to circumvent any lock-down by Apple.

That way Palm is conforms to the USB requirements and the users can be happy.

Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (3, Informative)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 5 years ago | (#29629201)

Palm is doing what is necessary to provide compatibility. If Apple and USB Interoperability Forum have worked to make the system deliberately incompatible, Palm has the legal right to circumvent that, and to sue Apple and USB-IF if they continue the cat-and-mouse game.

Probably this will eventually get to court, and Apple will be forced to extend itunes interoperability to other manufacturers.

I have not seen a more clueless post in recent memory. I would have thought that someone of your stature would have a better understanding of what is involved here. Palm is breaking the USB standard. There will probably be a lawsuit but Palm may end up facing fines and/or lose the ability to USB logos on their devices. They are in violation of the USB IF rules. They are not only using Apple's Vendor ID but also an Apple specific device ID. Device IDs are not necessarily unique under the USB spec so if a device need drivers to support specific features of the device, the OS will use a combination of the Device ID and Vendor ID to load the correct driver. If devices begin spoofing IDs like this, the entire schema for identification of USB devices will be broken.

Get back to us when you decide to leave the airy fairly land of Open Source/Academia and join the real world which is comprised of corporations with budget constraints and shrinking revenue streams. Some of us have to actually work hard for a living.

Apple provides a windows API for writing iTunes plugins and a similar API for OS X. They also provide the iTunes library in XML format which any third party developer can use to sync media from the library to their device. RIM makes use of this XML document to facilitate media syncing in their windows and mac Blackberry desktop applications and Palm could have done the same with the Palm pre.

It would be a trivial matter to write a syncing agent using the Library XML and I could probably write one in a few days.

Not only is palm using iTunes to sync media from the library but they are also syncing contacts and photos by piggy backing on the syncing services Apple built into windows/os x for syncing the iPhone and iPod touch. That goes beyond trying to just access media from iTunes.

If you really are the famous Bruce Perens, explain to me why Palm should be allowed to piggy back on Apple's work for syncing windows pictures and contacts. Would you support non-GPL software piggy backing on GPL'd software in the same way on linux or would you have a double standard on that issue? Are you telling us that you would attach a GPL violator but defend someone who is violating their license agreement with the USB IF?

I sincerely hope that you are not actually Bruce Perens and that someone has hacked your account because if that is not the case, you have become an embarrassment to the OSS movement much like RMS has become.

Stop buying from Apple. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628751)

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.

Re:Stop buying from Apple. (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29628817)

I don't get why so many people who are against action like this keep buying Apple products.

Two possible explanations:

a) they're in denial
b) they're hypocrites

Re:Stop buying from Apple. (4, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | about 5 years ago | (#29629015)

Third possible explanation:

They don't let a political argument between two companies stand in the way of buying the device they see as best suiting their needs.

I remember (5, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 5 years ago | (#29628757)

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 (5, Informative)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#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:I remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629127)

Next step is probably to revoke their license to use and display the USB name and logo on their product's marketing material.

Their right to use the NAME can't be "revoked" of course, so long as they are accurately using it to refer to the actual specification. Just like Coca Cola can't forbid people to use the name Coca Cola when referring to uh... Coca Cola. The cahos that could be created if it could be done would be hilarious but sadly trademark law is aimed at preventing confusion in the market place, not at creating it. As for the logo - why would Palm possibly care?

Re:I remember (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 5 years ago | (#29629313)

Who do they allow to sync? I'm curious.

Re:I remember (5, Interesting)

Idbar (1034346) | about 5 years ago | (#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).

Re:I remember (1, Insightful)

itzdandy (183397) | about 5 years ago | (#29629105)

Fair use is what that was called. It is still on the books by the way.

The consumer has certain rights. They paid for the music and apple cannot deny them access to it. Palm is providing an interface and should not have to pay apple for that. Maybe apple has some fancy API that they could license but they would have to pay for that. if they can do it without paying then why wouldnt they? Keep in mind that the consumer who has fair use rights to the media is the one who is using the service, palm provides the interface.

An unsophisticated crime (1)

Teun (17872) | about 5 years ago | (#29628823)

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.

Re:An unsophisticated crime (1)

lisany (700361) | about 5 years ago | (#29629263)

"Your honour! That woman was CLEARLY inviting my client to sexual encounters! Just LOOK at the way she is dressed!" ... yeah, I don't think that defence works out so well in sane parts of the world.

With proprietary software you have no freedom (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628841)

Please stop whining about what apple is doing. If you don't like it, don't use their proprietary software.

Freedom is feature, choose it.

Re:With proprietary software you have no freedom (1, Insightful)

itzdandy (183397) | about 5 years ago | (#29629183)

I see this type of comment a lot and I think I have a good arguement against it. I equate this to the 'if you have nothing to hide then why do you care if I look" argument.

If I dont like the situation I *SHOULD* exercise my rights to the fullest. If I have fair use rights, then I dont can what apple thinks, Im going to sync my media off to a device of my choosing even if I have to circumvent thier lockdowns. I have the RIGHT to access my media and therefore I will without hesitation.

I do prefer to start with OSS in the first place as then I tend to avoid having to exercise my rights but I wont cripple myself like that because some products dont exist in the open source world. I have rights that should protect me from wrongdoing.

I personally wont buy an apple product because of their politics and that I have an alternative. It actually amazes me the people continue to buy apple stuff because of this. I actually think that there are a few better players out there than ipods now and slowly the market will see this and quit paying the apple tax (aka inflated prices due to apple styling). Remember, this happened before to apple, when the PC overtook the mac for consumer level computers. see history repeat itself.

This again... (2, Insightful)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 5 years ago | (#29628849)

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, they go out of their way to do things like maintain a plain text XML version of their library for interoperability. Sure, a plugin architecture would be better, but let's be honest, does iTunes really need more bloat? The program is already a war crime on Windows and it's getting that way on Mac OS too.

Re:This again... (1)

Spykk (823586) | about 5 years ago | (#29629181)

Well, if we are going to involve Microsoft in hypothetical situations... Imagine if Microsoft changed their generic HID drivers so that they would only work with devices that have a Microsoft USB ID. Sure, other vendors could write their own USB mouse and keyboard drivers to make them work using a documented standard, but would Slashdot leap to defend Microsoft's decision?

Apple just has to use more robust techniques (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29628879)

Of course Apple can figure out a way of stopping third-party sync. Microsoft's been doing something like that for almost 20 years, with various technologies, Office Doc files, login/authentication protocols (e.g. AD), etc.

If you would like to claim otherwise... show me how I can view a web site that requires ActiveX in Linux, without cheating by using something like MSIE in VMware or Wine. (Way beyond the technical capabilities of the average person)

The iPod/iPhone can probably be detected by more than the device ID.

If Apple's smart, they have a unique apple-signed digital certificate private key stored on each portable device. And that the 'certificate' also contains an Apple copyright statement, forbidding a third party from extracting the certificate from their device's ROM chips.

They could provide new firmware for the iPod/iPhone, and a new version of iTunes, that requires 'sync' traffic to be encrypted, and signed by the portable device's unique key.

Or take the easy way, and just introduce proprietary extensions to the protocol, that won't be revealed to third parties.

Re:Apple just has to use more robust techniques (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29629275)

show me how I can view a web site that requires ActiveX in Linux

Does the operator of this web site have a competitor?

If Apple's smart, they have a unique apple-signed digital certificate private key stored on each portable device. And that the 'certificate' also contains an Apple copyright statement, forbidding a third party from extracting the certificate from their device's ROM chips.

I wouldn't be so confident of its legal force in the United States. Lexmark tried that, and the Supreme Court smacked it down in Lexmark v. Static Control Components, 387 F.3d 522 (6th Cir. 2004).

Brain-dead (1)

rlp (11898) | about 5 years ago | (#29628891)

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 deploying open source apps to the Pre. Palm has a small window to make the Pre a success. Apple is eventually going to make the IPhone available to other carriers. Palm needs to capture a reasonable market share before that happens. That's not going to happen as long as they keep sabotaging their own product.

Re:Brain-dead (2, Insightful)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 5 years ago | (#29628937)

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.

Re:Brain-dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29629037)

I think the reason is that you're not really using iTunes in that case; you're using a third-party app that just happens to read iTunes' music database. That effectively makes everyone else a second-class citizen compared to the iPhone which gets to use the "real" iTunes interface without jumping through hoops.

Of course, the media sync on the Pre breaking every couple months is already making it a second-class citizen, but they're still trying to perfect it.

Is it an apple or orange? (1)

Stumbles (602007) | about 5 years ago | (#29628923)

I have not been following this issue real close. But, and there is always one of those. What Apple is doing, should a whole lot like what Microsoft did in the DOS days with DRDOS. Microsoft was intentionally sabotaging their own software to look for specific string, and if found cause applications to fail. Granted, this Apple trick is slightly different, but it sure does seem similar. IIRC, Microsoft got sued and had to cough up a really huge clam on the order of a billion dollars or so.

Re:Is it an apple or orange? (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#29628995)

Microsoft got sued and had to cough up a really huge clam on the order of a billion dollars or so.

And yet, DrDOS 'died' and MS-DOS 'won', commercially speaking... Go figure...

Brick a Pre on purpose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29628927)

Maybe Apple ought to push a "iPod" firmware update that bricks Pre's. This will teach Palm to fuck with them again....

Re:Brick a Pre on purpose... (1)

Tokerat (150341) | about 5 years ago | (#29629205)

Pre doesn't sync firmware through iTunes

I Wonder What Would Happen If... (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#29628943)

I were to use another company's [ieee.org] MAC/Ethernet pre-fix code's [ieee.org] for my own company's Ethernet cards ?

Re:I Wonder What Would Happen If... (1)

3vi1 (544505) | about 5 years ago | (#29629091)

What would happen: nothing.

Unless you had the super-incredibly wild coincidence of having a card from both manufacturers connected to the same switch.

And if that happened, you just manually set the MAC address for one of the cards at the driver level.

Re:I Wonder What Would Happen If... (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#29629209)

What would happen: nothing.

If so, how come Palm using Apple's USB vendor ID *is* a big deal then ? I fail to see the difference.

Re:I Wonder What Would Happen If... (4, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 5 years ago | (#29629179)

One difference: with Ethernet, duplication of MAC addresses causes a malfunction of the network itself. Prefixes are assigned to companies for a technical purpose: to insure no two companies ever manufacture cards that share an address. The USB vendor ID isn't used for addressing, so as long as the device correctly implements the capabilities it advertises itself as implementing (which aren't tied to vendor ID) there should be no hardware-level malfunctions. Apple's trying to use the vendor ID merely to block sync with devices that would otherwise be technically perfectly capable of correctly syncing with iTunes. IMO it's Apple's right to try that, but nobody else is obliged to go along with them.

I'd note that vendor impersonation has a long history. Microsoft themselves do it, Internet Explorer to this day claims to be Mozilla in it's user-agent string, and this was done with the deliberate intention of fooling Web servers into thinking it was actually Netscape.

Re:I Wonder What Would Happen If... (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#29629295)

Apple's trying to use the vendor ID merely to block sync with devices that would otherwise be technically perfectly capable of correctly syncing with iTunes.

Sounds like 'Apple Is Evil' to me... Oh well, nevermind...

0x1209 (1)

Epsillon (608775) | about 5 years ago | (#29629007)

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 firmware to implement this key exchange. You're an iPod Video, eh? Here, have some firmware before we talk again. "Well, Your Honour, it was using our vendor and device ID. Not our fault our flash code bricked it. Pre flasher code in our update software? The very thought!"

This will not end well. I'd forget about making your device pretend to be something else, Palm. It might come back to bite you and your customers on the arse.

Re:0x1209 (1)

3vi1 (544505) | about 5 years ago | (#29629049)

>> 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.

Re:0x1209 (1)

Tokerat (150341) | about 5 years ago | (#29629249)

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

...and that's exactly why Apple has their panties in a twist.

Does Palm really need Apple's USB vendor ID ? (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 5 years ago | (#29629141)

Honestly, does Palm really need Apple's USB vendor ID in order to enable iTunes media synchronization with its new Pre smartphone ? If so, there's something really wrong with Apple here, and not Palm.

USB, people ... USB (5, Insightful)

gordguide (307383) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

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