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.