Palm is clearly very determined to encourage Apple to release updates for iTunes, because it keeps updating its own software for the Palm Pre to re-enable iTunes syncing. The latest update, 1.2.1, does indeed restore the device to the honored “Source List” in Apple media management software — this despite receiving a slap on the wrist from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) only recently.
That appears to be the sole purpose of the incremental update, too, besides a few standard maintenance and bug fixes. Maybe Palm is hoping this is the time Apple will just roll over and acquiesce to having another manufacturer’s device take advantage of its proprietary software. Not likely.
So who’s the villain here? Is it Apple for being the big bully and not letting Palm play along with its iPod and iPhone devices? Or is it Palm, which isn’t satisfied with its own solution and has to go leeching off the better software design of its rival, despite the repeated objections of both that company and organizations governing its devices’ use?
Here’s an excerpt from the USB-IF’s letter (via Softpedia) back to Palm in response to the smartphone maker’s complaint against Apple:
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.
So, according to the Forum at least, Palm is in the wrong here. And why wouldn’t it be? We can lament all we want the fact that iTunes doesn’t provide an API to hardware manufacturers so that we could use our Sansa, Zune, BlackBerry, and whatever other devices with it, but the fact remains that it doesn’t, and because of that no company really has the right to commandeer the use of the software for its own purposes. What if the DSi started doing that with Sony’s Media Go PC software for the PSP? Obviously, it wouldn’t fly.
And it’s not like iTunes media is inaccessible for devices other than iPods and iPhones. BlackBerry’s recently released Desktop Manager for Mac allows for syncing with iTunes playlists. It does so by reading the iTunes library .XML file, which is readily available to all programs, and it handles the actual syncing process on its own. It’s something Palm could easily mimic.
I was rooting for the little guy, but as this drags on, I’m beginning more and more to take Apple’s side. Palm is looking increasingly like it’s unwilling to try to stand on its own. No doubt the update war will continue, but to what end? Apple will eventually win, and Palm’s time would be better spent trying to design an equally elegant solution of its own.