Palm Pre and iTunes

As you might have heard, the Palm Pre can pose as an Apple product and fool iTunes that it’s an iPod. According to DVD Jon, Apple can very easily close that door for Palm with an iTunes update. The question I am asking here though, is if it’s morally right for Palm Pre to pose as an Apple product and fool an application.

Don’t beat yourself, there’s not an easy answer to it. Both sides have good arguments. Apple could argue that it’s unlawful to present a product as an Apple product (even if the user never sees that), and that iTunes is designed to be used with an iPod only and that might create support problems for Apple. Palm on the other side could argue that the iPod is a monopoly assisted by iTunes, and that originally iTunes was simply just an media player and it even had an SDK to add support for other devices (before Apple removed that ability to maintain their newly found iPod monopoly).

I am kind of siding with Palm on this. iTunes was originally a generic media app, and slowly but surely Apple locked up the app from other vendors and plugin creators. While iTunes belongs to Apple and they could do what they please with it, it’s simply unrealistic for any other vendor to compete anymore, given that iTunes has a development history of 10 years now, and that alternative solutions (e.g. Songbird) are buggy as hell. Then again, that’s not Apple’s fault…

It’s a tough situation, really. We will see how Apple will respond (update: they closed down that door for Palm by July 2009), because I have the feeling that they don’t quite like Palm a lot. First a big chunk of their iPhone engineers moved to Palm overnight leaving the iPhone team half-crippled at the time, then Palm allegedly infringed on the Apple multi-touch patents, and now there’s this iTunes stunt. Honestly, I smell a lawsuit, but maybe Palm has enough patents of its own to keep Apple in check. Only time will tell.

10 Comments »

Soundtweaker wrote on June 4th, 2009 at 4:13 PM PST:

Im siding with Pre on this one.
Im not sure why anyone would want to buy songs off Itunes anyway. Amazon is a better deal and higher bit rate and more universal mp3 format.

Eventually everything will be subscription based anyway like the Zune pass. If I didnt already buy 300 cd’s I would have had the Zune pass already.


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Eugenia wrote on June 4th, 2009 at 4:22 PM PST:

I have bought a lot of music via iTunes because I like the integration between the Store and the Library. It’s just convenient. You buy it, and it’s there, in your Library.

However, you are mistaken that Amazon’s 256kbps VBR MP3 being better than Apple’s 256 kbps DRM-free AAC. AAC is mpeg4, while mp3 is actually mpeg2. Even with Amazon using VBR, AAC still has an audible edge. Where AAC is not very good at is in low bitrates (e.g. 64 kbps), where WMA is actually better than both mp3 and AAC. Mp3 is best at around 128 kbps (comparatively to WMA/AAC’s performance at that medium quality bitrate). So quality between all these formats is different depending on the bitrate used. At high bitrate though (over 192 kbps), AAC is better than its competition. On the other hand, of course, Apple uses Low Complexity for their AAC format, meaning, that they are not as well optimized as they could be.

The only things Amazon’s MP3 has for it compared to AAC, is that it has no embedded watermarking (all my AACs have my name on their metadata), and that MP3 is indeed more compatible with various devices.


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Eugenia wrote on June 4th, 2009 at 4:31 PM PST:

I just checked out the Zune Pass deal, and I don’t really like it. It’s DRM, it’s WMA (the most popular player is the iPod after all), & not all albums are available for Zune Pass. This is really “leasing”, and it has its place in the market, but probably not at $15 a month. I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for DRM, even if we are talking about a whole catalog.

Anyways, our topic is the iTunes hijacking… Fair, unfair, legal, illegal?


b0nk wrote on June 4th, 2009 at 11:00 PM PST:

I wasn’t aware of the fact that iTunes once had an API to add support for other devices. Perhaps the reason for removing this API was a tribute to the fucking music industry. You know, human’s creativity is infinite; there might have been a developer somewhere here on earth who would’ve created a plugin to share music easily via the internet. Well that’s also possible right now (Simplify Media), but in the times of DRM somebody could’ve tricking DRM out; who knows…


Soundtweaker wrote on June 4th, 2009 at 11:17 PM PST:

Well DRM doesnt really matter if your using a subscription service. If you want the songs bad enough, DRM can be easily stripped with programs like Tunebite.

Its very hard to tell a 192 file AAC from and mp3.
I can barely tell the difference between 192 and 320mp3 on pro studio monitors.

The Zune pass is a great deal because you also get 10 free songs of your choice per month. So that $15 per month is just like buying a CD and you get access to millions of songs. They even have more experimental stuff like Fantomas.

Sorry for hijacking the thread here.


blover wrote on June 5th, 2009 at 8:22 AM PST:

palm makes no money, apple does = not immoral


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Eugenia wrote on June 5th, 2009 at 11:09 AM PST:

blover, this is a naive mistake on your part. Palm also makes money off of it, because for some people, iTunes integration is a reason to buy the Palm Pre. It’s an added-value situation for Palm.

Plus, the fact that someone makes money off something is not immoral. It’s just commercial. Being commercial is neither moral or immoral. But hijacking someone else’s investment (like Palm did), is immoral.

On the other hand, there are not many other things Palm can do to compete. iTunes has a monopoly, and while having a monopoly per se is not illegal in the US, it doesn’t help competition and the market. So all this really is a tricky situation. It really is a gray area rather than a black and white one.


blover wrote on June 5th, 2009 at 4:16 PM PST:

It’s kinda like garbage(no negative innuindo intentioned), in that once you set it on the curb it’s not yours… the same with anything online including this blog. If you open it up for comments then don’t bitch and wine when you don’t like the comments.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 5th, 2009 at 8:37 PM PST:

Blover, stop overreacting and taking it hard because I said that you did a naive mistake. It was what it was. The one who is bitching right now about it, is you.

You made a mistake in evaluating the true situation of Palm actually GAINING something from the whole thing, so be a man and admit it. Don’t put this on me.


memson wrote on June 6th, 2009 at 7:17 AM PST:

Palm needs to go cap in hand to Apple and pay the piper, or else they’ll have this feature gone in 60 days.


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