New Palm Pre update re-enables iTunes syncing.. AGAIN

Sat, Oct 3, 2009


The ongoing battle between Palm and Apple over the Palm Pre’s ability to sync up with iTunes shows no signs of dying down, despite numerous attempts from Apple to block the Pre and in spite a recent letter from the USB Implementors Forum which chastised Palm for spoofing Apple’s USB Vendor ID.

Palm today released WebOS update 1.2.1 which re-enables the Pre to sync with iTunes, and it came with the somewhat sarcastic changelog note stating, “Resolves an issue preventing media sync from working with latest version of iTunes (9.0.1).

Well, at least Palm has a sense of humor.

Over the past few weeks, it seemed that Palm had given up on its efforts to seamlessly hook up the Pre with iTunes.  When Apple last broke Palm Pre/iTunes compatibility with the release of iTunes 9, Palm didn’t issue a quick update as it had done many times in the past.  Furthermore, Palm had recently filed a complaint with the USB Implementors Forum alleging that Apple was in violation of USB guidelines for discriminating against certain non-Apple USB Vendor ID’s.  The irony, of course, was that the Pre was able to sync up with iTunes because the device spoofed an Apple USB Vendor ID, which is in clear violation of the initial contract companies must adhere to in order to receive a unique USB Vendor ID in the first place.  The pertinent portion of the contract states:

Unauthorized use of assigned or unassigned USB Vendor ID Numbers and associated Product ID Numbers are strictly prohibited.

10 days ago, the USB Implementors Forum responded to Palm’s complaint and issued, what many believed, was a death blow to Palm’s efforts.  The  Forum’s letter to Palm reads:

In the view of the USB-IF, Palm’s allegation (if true) does not establish that Apple is using its Vendor ID (VID) contrary to the USB-IF’s policies.  Therefore, under present USB-IF policies, the USB-IF does not consider the alleged use, without more, to be ‘improper’”

… Your letter also states that:

“Palm will shortly issue an update of its WebOS operating system that uses Apple’s Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring the Palm media sync functionality.”

I attach for your information the USB-IF’s adopted and published policy regarding Vendor Identification Numbers (VIDs). Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage. Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy.

Please clarify Palm’s intent and respond to this potential violation within seven days.

Palm publicly took issue with the Forum’s answer, but when it issued WebOS update 1.2 a few days ago, the Pre was still blocked from iTunes and it seemed that this little brouhaha was finally coming to an end.  But Palm, in an impressive display of persistence, today issued WebOS update 1.2.1 which re-enables the ability of the Palm Pre to sync up seamlessly with iTunes – and so the cat and mouse game soldiers on.

In the meantime, it seems that Palm Pre users are getting the shaft.  One day their Palm Pre syncs up with iTunes, and then it doesn’t for 2 weeks, and then it does again for the next 3 weeks etc.  What a horrible situation to get stuck in the middle of and it makes absolutely zero sense that Palm would subject its users to that, especially when Apple shows no signs of backing down anytime soon.

Related: Palm has an easy time getting the Pre to sync with iTunes


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14 Comments For This Post

  1. RattyUK Says:

    “especially when Apple shows no signs of backing down anytime soon”

    Just why should they back down? iTunes is Apple’s software why don’t palm stop dicking around and actually write some software to synchronize the data with the iTunes database, you know, like everyone else does?

    Palm have actually said “screw you” to the standards body. Not a good call. I don’t know about you but I would suggest that they are going down burning. You don’t get away with messing with a standards body. Good Luck Palm, you are going to need it.

  2. Alex Says:

    Or you know Ratty… Apple could stop trying to one up Microsoft on seeing who can throw around their proprietary BS around the most. The worst thing about the iTunes/iPod/iPhone is Apple.

  3. Donovan Says:

    This shows how bad Apple has gotten. They’re worse than Microsoft. Apple harms it’s customers by keeping applications from communicating with things like the Pre or Google Voice.

    With apple repeatedly blocking the Pre’s access we need to ask, “Why am I using iTunes?”

    We need to push Apple to open it’s standards. If they don’t Google will eventually take all their business, AND their ‘pretty design’ people.

  4. turk Says:

    Doesn’t it make good business sense for Apple to block it’s iTunes users from purchasing content with anything but an Apple device? Apple is now on my “do not buy” list. I only use Windows because my job requires it. I run Linux at home. I was thinking about going with a Mac for my next PC purchase. I won’t be doing that now. I’ll stick with Linux and a community that actually likes to share ideas and technology. iTunes is not the only service on the block these days.

  5. Jortega Says:

    Its simple people disable you I TUNES AUTO UPDATES

  6. bop Says:

    Screw Apple. I don’t want to use your crappy iTunes anyway.

  7. kenny Says:

    iTunes is slow piece of crap

  8. Joe Jack Says:

    itunes it worst piece of software anyway. who cares!

  9. MrT Says:

    So maybe Epson should make their scanning software work with HP’s scanners. Or maybe Sony should make it so you can download and play their games on a Wii. I mean how dare they write their own software or online marketplace that works only with a device they make. Seems like Palm should just write their own software. Anyone can download Xcode and use all the same hooks and resources that Apple uses to write iTunes but it looks like Palm is too lazy or stupid to do that.

  10. Tom Says:

    This forum is peopled by idiots. Read the link and get a clue you morons who think Palm is in the right.

  11. addicted Says:

    A lot of folks are missing the danger in what Palm is doing. They are making the Pre impersonate an iPod (or iphone… depends on which version we are talking about).

    When you connect an ipod or iphone to your computer, itunes detects what model it is, and uses that information to determine whether there are any software updates available. If there are, it prompts the user and installs those updates. Occasionally, these updates can also be firmware updates.

    Now, with the Pre pretending to be an ipod, iTunes might very well recommend the user install an update, and a not so tech-savvy user might click the “Update” button instead of “Cancel”. Who is liable for the ensuing mess, caused by iTunes installing an ipod update (potentially a firmware update) on the Pre? That would brick the entire thing. Is Apple supposed to test their software to make sure that not only their products work, but other unauthorized products also don’t get destroyed by it?

    Palm is being ridiculous here, and if this becomes any bigger, don’t be surprised if all the tech companies (Google, Amazon, MS, Nokia, RIM, Dell, HP, etc…) weigh in on Apple’s side. They can all suffer significantly if such unauthorized acts are allowed to slide by the standards body…

  12. Richard Says:

    Palm should get their OWN syncing software, why don’t they?

    iTunes is meant to work with iPods, iPhones and devices that license it …
    like some Motorola phones did a while back.

    Palm’s “hacker-type” solutions are just not something a genuine company should be doing. It shows how desperate Palm is.

    Palm slept while Apple was cooking the iPhone … they even said that Apple was not going to be able to compete … A few years later and Palm copies iPhones idea and wants to use Apple’s software. What a crappy company is Palm !

  13. Polprav Says:

    Hello from Russia)

  14. jks Says:

    they are doing a good job in publicity, palm people are brilliant

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