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Summary:

It appeared to be just another innocuous third-decimal-point minor update, but today’s release of iTunes 8.2.1 carried more than the usual “bug fixes and stability improvements.” (Those are still there, too.) For owners of the recently introduced Palm Pre unfortunate enough to have already downloaded and […]

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It appeared to be just another innocuous third-decimal-point minor update, but today’s release of iTunes 8.2.1 carried more than the usual “bug fixes and stability improvements.” (Those are still there, too.) For owners of the recently introduced Palm Pre unfortunate enough to have already downloaded and installed the update, it also ends the iTunes playlist syncing party. It was inevitable, since Apple clearly regards iTunes syncing as the exclusive, sacred territory of its own devices, but it probably still has a few Pre owners trying to turn back the clock.

TUAW’s Christina Warren first suggested that Pre syncing was blocked with this update, having spotted a crucial passage in the release notes stating, “Tunes 8.2.1 provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices.” While Warren didn’t have access to a Pre to test her theory herself, many Pre-specific sites and bloggers quickly confirmed that it was indeed the case that the device is no longer recognized. So far, the reports I’ve seen are specific to Macs, but I doubt the Windows version of iTunes would retain Pre syncing.

Interestingly, when Pre owners plugged their devices in, they found that iTunes came to the front, just as it does when you plug in an iPod or iPhone, but no device showed up in the source menu. This suggests that the program is still aware that the device exists, but that Apple has introduced some kind of blocking software to stop the process there. It also suggests that it might be possible for Palm or independent devs to create a workaround to get syncing functioning again.

In the meantime, if no fix ever does surface, Pre owners can always use doubleTwist or The Missing Sync for Pre to get around Apple’s blockade.

  1. Or they can stick w/ an older version of iTunes? In all honesty – most updates just bog down iTunes anyway. The original version was simple, fast. Now it’s more and more stuff to chug through to get what you want.

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  2. Yes! Go Apple! Show those Palm jokers that hacking Apple’s software is not a viable business model. Palm needs to compete by offering better products, not by attacking Apple.

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  3. Howie Isaacks Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Meh… Screw Palm. Apple is not obligate to support their products in iTunes.

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  4. Carl in Silcon Valley Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Like Google using a so called free OS in an anti-competitive move to generate ad revenue for it’s unrelated search business, Apple uses iTunes to dominate the phone and mp3 markets. Can you imagine the uproar if Microsoft did this?

    Apple monopolizes markets and uses illegal, anti-competitive tactics to maintain dominance. FTC – are you listening? Unless you have an iPod or an iPhone, guess not. Since I don’t want Apple suing me too…

    iPod is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc
    iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

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    1. Grow up. Since when is Apple legally obligated to let other companies’ devices use its software? If Palm wants to be competitive, then they can decide to actually compete. “Successful” doesn’t mean “monopolistic”. They’re giving away software that you download online.

      Does Palm let you run another OS on the Pre? No? Well, they’re just as bad as Apple, then.

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  5. I knew it was coming, but understanding Apple’s motivation doesn’t make me respect the action. Carl has it right, if Microsoft did the same thing, the user community would be up in absolute arms.

    You might say, “[Apple is] just show[ing] those Palm jokers that hacking Apple’s software is not a viable business model!” Except, Apple isn’t showing Palm any such thing. It’s an inconvenient little detail that the Palm iTunes sync didn’t contribute to Palm’s business model in any meaningful way. It’s music revenue that Apple will never see and an ITunes user lost. Further, if someone was using Palm Pre with their existing (non DRMed library), I doubt very much if they are going to rush out and buy an iPod.

    After all, the Palm acts just like a hard drive when plugged into a computer. As a result, it syncs with EVERY other music player in existence. Except iTunes, that is. Since it appears that most people using the Pre are fairly tech savvy, I’m sure that they will find alternatives. I hear that Songbird is quite nice …

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    1. “After all, the Palm acts just like a hard drive when plugged into a computer. As a result, it syncs with EVERY other music player in existence.”

      Even the Zune’s proprietary software?

      iTunes still recognizes the Pre as a hard drive when it’s plugged in, and Pre owners can still add their music to their device that way. Palm spokesperson Laura Letts has been very careful to only say that Pre users “will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience,” emphasis on seamless. She can’t say they can’t use iTunes anymore, because they still can. Molehill? You’ve just been upgraded to mountain.

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  6. In my opinion it was senseless to block the Pre, as Rob mentions, they loose some willing costumers.
    But I don’t think you can blame Apple for blocking other devices. It’s common to have for every device a different piece of software for synching.
    TomTom -> TomTomHome, Palm -> Palm Desktop, Zune -> Zune Software etc.

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  7. It’s just silly for Apple to do this. The revenue generated from iTunes alone justifies allowing other devices access. I don’t own a Pre (but do have a couple of Treo’s) and won’t buy anything anymore from iTunes just because I vote on their behavior with my dollars.

    I already have a music library of about 60,000 songs, and three iPods, but will get my new music elsewhere.

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  8. Michael J, you are 100% wrong. Apple is actually perfectly justified in doing this. They dominate the on line music sales business because they make better products, and Palm should not be allowed to take advantage of Apple’s hard work. The reality of the situation is that a company like Apple can only get to its dominant position through sheer innovation, and I for one feel that they should have the freedom to innovate as they see fit.

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    1. Let me see if I’ve got this right: Apple dominates online music sales because they make better products, yet, others shouldn’t be allowed to tap in to that marketplace because it is taking advantage of Apple’s hard work? That’s a bit silly. Which products are you talking about? Their music place, or their iPods?

      Silly me, I always thought that music marketplace sales exist independent of iPod sales. And that when music is sold on iTunes, Apple still takes a cut. And even though that cut may be relatively low (though I would doubt that), iTunes is still ENORMOUSLY profitable.

      Allowing other devices to purchase content from iTunes increases that profitability. Since iTunes is already the dominant marketplace with tremendous mind share, it is actually rather stupid to not allow third-party devices to sync with it. People using competing devices might buy content, but they aren’t all that likely to buy iPods. In fact, Apple’s decision to deliberately block 3rd party devices has the potential to drive potential customers to other providers (like Amazon).

      And though interaction with iTunes may be one nice feature, ultimately, most people buy iPods because they are the best music players. (Right? Can we agree on that?) Access to the iTunes store is probably only a peripheral consideration, at best. In fact, for some it is actually a turn off.

      Personally, I would rather use my iPod touch with an alternative player (like Songbird) than with iTunes. But, Apple has me firmly locked in to their walled garden. I know that we’re talking about Apple and double standards are in effect, but lock in is bad. Remember? Abusive practices and attempts to force upgrade cycles by another major vendor caused a whole bunch of anti-trust investigations and bad feelings. I’m not all that warm and snuggly with the fact that I can’t use my hardware with the music player of my chocie.

      Those bad feelings drove many of us to the Mac platform in the first place. What I was dismayed to find upon arriving, though, is that Steve Jobs is a worse monopolist than Bill Gates ever was. Luckily, he was never as successful.

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  9. Rob, if Pre (or another music player) users want to use iTunes, they can. iTunes will treat it as a hard drive that they can use to manage files manually. All Apple is saying is, “no automatic syncing”. As for your iPod Touch, Media Monkey will support it. You’re not being forced to use iTunes; you’re just not looking very hard.

    You haven’t once explained how Apple denying automatic syncing to non-Apple devices is monopolistic. They don’t even INCLUDE it with devices, hell, they don’t even SELL it. I don’t see you complaining about the Zune software being proprietary, or how Palm’s Web OS is, or how if you buy an Xbox you can’t play Playstation games (another case of proprietary software/hardware clashes). Frankly, I don’t think you understand what a monopoly actually is.

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  10. [...] however Palm Pre owners are in for a surprise sandwich filled with the meat of disappointment: Apple has blocked Palm Pre syncing in iTunes. Pre owners, I adore your device, but it was bound to happen, it has happened, get over [...]

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