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Palm Hacks Again: webOS Update Re-enables iTunes Syncing

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With the release of webOS 1.1, Palm Pre users cut off from iTunes 8.2.1 are connected again, at least until iTunes 8.2.2 shows up in Software Update.

For today, however, Palm (s palm) can talk some trash. Or at least John Traynor, VP of Business Products for Palm, can and does on the company’s blog.

Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync. That’s right — you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1).

You have to love the “one more thing” bit, if not the battle between Apple (s aapl) and Palm over iTunes. A war which no one is winning, though ironically the biggest losers arguably are Pre users.

To recap, the Palm Pre was released on June 6 with “Media Sync” built into the OS for synchronizing with iTunes. On June 16, Apple (s aapl) published a knowledgebase article warning that newer versions of iTunes “may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players.” That newer version, iTunes 8.2.1, was released on July 15, breaking Pre compatibility with iTunes. Pre users wondering why webOS 1.1 was taking so long to come out probably got their answer today, as Palm was likely waiting for Apple to break the hack so the Palm could patch it, and make no mistake, a hack it is. The Pre fools iTunes by using Apple’s USB vendor ID, identifying itself as an iPod. Whether or not that’s illegal, it’s certainly not fair.

It’s not fair to Pre users.

Palm advertises iTunes syncing as a feature of webOS, and when that feature suddenly stops working, they are at a loss until Palm issues a new hack. Sure, Palm blames Apple, but what does that do for Pre users who just want to listen to their music? Pre users are looking at a future in which their Pre won’t work half the time with iTunes. If Palm doesn’t have the resources to create its own media software, it should point users towards doubleTwist or Missing Sync for Pre. If Palm can’t do right by its customers, perhaps looking at it from a financial perspective would make sense. A hyperlink on a web page costs even less in development time than a miserable hack.

24 Responses to “Palm Hacks Again: webOS Update Re-enables iTunes Syncing”

  1. Narref

    Personaly I detest Apple for doing this. I own an Ipod (120G). I own it not becuause I like the ease of use and the large memory (I only have 9G left due to my large CD collection, however, I had to go from Windows media player which I used with my old MP3 Player and my Treo (for select songs) to having to use ITunes due to the ipod. Now they basically are telling everyone that if they own a smart phone that is not an I-PHONE, that they have to maintain their music library on two different systems. Yes I understand that they want to sell more products, but unless they statr to sell the I-phone on sprint (which is the only service that is remotely reliable where I live, then they should just make peace, sit down with palm, and allow for a proper interface with the pre (also allowing ITUNES app on the web OS.. instead of amazon). This will only become more important to APPLE, when the pre is released in the Verizon Network with in a year.

    Yes APPLE created the I-TUNES program… BUT ITS MY MUSIC FILES THAT I’M MANAGING!!! NOT THEIRS!… They don’t like it…then open up my IPOD so I can freeely use it with the music managing program of my choice (one that works with my PRE of course!!!

  2. Michael

    Apple has build a little bid overloaded media manager (iTunes Store browsing is awful and it eats a lot of memory). The next iteration will need some big improvments.

    I would appreciate it to see iTunes synched with other devices. iTunes Store is still the number one.

  3. First of all this is all a competition between rival companys so some dirty play is expected. In this case though the dirty play is from Palm. Apple is just protecting their product. They can do what ever they want with their own products. … Palm declared itself as the iPhone killer which it clearly has not been. iPhone continues to outsell and out shine the pre. Why can’t palm just create their own thing?? Are they incapable? I have several friends who bought the Pre and are now sorry they did (they spend more time playing on my iPhone than on their pre). They as pre owners don’t want to keep having to go to iTunes to sync their music. … they want to be able to sync their music, photos, apps, videos and be able to purchase all from a palm base sync program. If tomorrow Apple blocked access by pre again I would be okay with it. I bet if it were the other way around and Apple was trying to steal something from palm, palm owners would be all up in arms.

    • Your full of doodoo. First of all pre owners dont have to use itunes to sync music. You can sync with all the other media sync programs that are free out there such as media monkey etc. Second you dont have to sync at all. Pre users can just drag and drop into the pre. 3rd i doubt you know anyone who bought the pre

    • Narref

      I agree with steve :) besides, the Iphone is merely an improvement on the palm 5 os, in a touch format. And if you can’t think back when the Iphone first came out…people were outraged cause there werent any non apple apps and everyone was mad at how little there was available on the iphone store. most other media players/managers are open because people now a days own multiple gadgets from multiple companies. just because I own an ipod, doesn’t mean I’m getting an Iphone (having owned 3 treos over the last 10 years.. I stuck with palm and sprint) but my kids don’t own ipods..they have cheap mp3 players an I can’t sync them with Itunes (its a pain in the neck) to have to keep making play lists in multiple programs. If Apple closes the loop again.. I can just drag and drop my mp3 files from my Itunes library folder. Syncing with I-tunes is just easier when thats who I use for my 120G Ipod.

  4. KrisCrox

    How do we know Palm didn’t approach Apple and make a “strong moral case?”

    It seems quite easy to lay the blame here all on Palm for trying to provide their owners with access to the world’s most popular music service – they are obviously trying to find a way to counter the great selling poitn of an iPhone and creating their own service would be a genuine waste of time. But to say they don’t at a ll care about the users, only the publicity seems quite rediculous.

    • If Palm had approached Apple to make a strong moral case for opening iTunes syncing to non-Apple products, why wouldn’t they be announcing it from the rooftops? As others have noted, this is a PR battle, and being able to say, “We tried to work with Apple to negotiate an iTunes licensing deal, but they refused. Why does Apple want to deny the iTunes experience to millions?” would be great for the company. They’re not dumb; the fact that they haven’t said that they did this in the months this has been making headlines is an exceptionally strong indication that they didn’t actually do it.

    • Narref

      Other companies have tried to do this with apple and failed. Apple wants people to buy their products (why a laptop with the same computing power costs you 2000 from apple, 1200 from sony, and 800 from dell) they make their money on the product, not so much the service. Apple only opened up their app developing because Iphone users were mad at the lack of applications. When the pre goes main stream (verizon) apple will have to either break ranks with ATT and offer their phone elsewere, or cave in at the large # of customers who own ipods, but not I-phones!

  5. Gazoobee

    Darin, you don’t seem to know the background of the issue or what a monopoly actually entails. You need to calm down your rhetoric and not comment so vehemently on things you don’t know so much about.

    Personally, I agree that it would be in Apple’s interest to open up iTunes but it’s perhaps not the first thing on their agenda when dealing with one of the first serious competitors they have faced for years. They would obviously chose to do such a a thing with their *partners* before they would do it with their *competitors*. That’s just common sense.

    It’s also pretty clear (as “Rob Whynot” says above in the very first comment), that this is a PR battle, and not about access per se. If Palm really wanted to partner with Apple over iTunes access, they would be trying to do this legitimately and making a strong moral case for it through the appropriate channels. What they are actually doing here is just screwing around with Apple in hopes of reaping a PR reward. They don’t really care about their customers iTunes access or they wouldn’t be approaching the problem in this way.

    • Narref

      Gazoobee, I think your partially right, but I own an Ipod, and a PRE…is apple looking out for me? NO, I’m not switching cell phone carriers just beacuse I tunes is cut off from my pre, and I dislike having to manage myt music on two programs… yes palm is creating competition, but in the end, it will be Apple folding. They don’t like it, but like me there are millions more ipod users who don’t also own an iphone. At the end of the day… my phone beats my mp3 player any day. If I had to make a choice.. I would piss and moan as I sold my I-Pod and got me a Zen :(.. but I wouldn’t change my cell phone carrier I’ve had and been happy with for over 10 years.. not to mention my phone #

    • Ken Jackson

      I’m sure you know that a monopoly is not defined by what is available, but what is used. For example Google is a near monopoly for search, although there are plenty of other places to do web search. Likewise, IE was a near monopoly on web browsing despite the fact that every other browser was a click away.

  6. Darrin

    I applaud what Palm is doing. Apple needs to open up iTunes to third parties; instead they are preventing this from happening to protect the iPhone’s privileged position.

    Fact is, Apple acts as much like a monopolistic bastard as Microsoft ever did, only difference is Apple is way smaller so it doesn’t get noticed as much.

    • Brad Newton

      You applaud Palm for falsely leading their customers to believe that their iTunes hack represents a reliable feature of the Pre?

      Why does Apple have to open up iTunes to third parties? They are in business to make money, like all companies. Giving away their product would be a horrible business decision.

      Whether or not Apple is monopolistic or not, they are a business and as such their primary responsibility is to earn profit. Also, Apple’s current financial status is more liquid and more profitable than Microsoft’s. (MS just posted their financials to investors and they are described as in a nose-dive at the moment while Apple is enjoying record profits.)

      If anything, Palm is the company in this case who is acting like Microsoft by attempting to steal/borrow a competitor’s idea and technology.

    • iTunes *is* open to third parties, Palm just need to build their own *syncing* utility – this would let users select iTunes playlists or any files. Any third party application can access the iTunes library. Palm are just lazy in not doing their own syncing.

  7. What are you? 5 years old?
    Not fair.. ?

    “Pre users are looking at a future in which their Pre won’t work half the time with iTunes.”

    If 1 week is what you call “half the time” then I congratulate you Sir on your “flawless” mathematics skills, but then again it’s the AppleBlog.
    Somehow you failed to mention the rather enjoyable FAIL of Apple to actually block access to its own iTunes…

    • When the first sentence of a response to a reasonable opinion by someone is to insult them (“What are you? 5 years old?”), it tends to lower the credibility of the response’s author right off the bat.

      Now as for the actual article, Charles is right. For Palm to advertise a hack as a feature is unfair to it’s users. Palm has no control over what Apple does with the software that they developed with their time and resources. Whether Apple should open iTunes is a philosophical question at best right now. It may become a legal question at some point, but perhaps that would be a better approach for Palm. To instead just continue to hack iTunes when Apple closes holes leaves Palm’s Pre owners constantly grasping for a solution to their media syncing. This is unprofessional on the part of Palm.

      As the Charles points out, Palm should either develop their own syncing software, as their competitors have done, or direct their users to other solutions that are already available.

    • Brad Newton

      Is your opinion so fragile that you need to resort to name calling in order to drive it across?

      Apple, clearly, is not failing to block access to iTunes. It is pretty obvious what they are doing: taking the higher road and allowing Palm to suffer the consequences of failing to deliver on their own product guarantees.

  8. Rob Whynot

    This situation seems to me as an attempt by Palm to make Apple look bad and increase awareness of the Pre in the public’s mind. Every time Apple closes this hack, Palm is able to play the poor wounded victim and, of course, create headlines.

    • KrisCrox

      Personally I would think Apple would like as many people as possible to be able to access iTunes. I’m not quite sure how this hurts them – to have their own customers able to access their music.

      Realistically, it is a very good reason to start purchasing your music through Amazon.