A blogger by the name of Jon Lech Johanson has released a small snippit of (presumably) Pre code which tells, in layman’s terms, iTunes that it is an iPod while in their recently announced “Media Sync” mode.

What does this mean for you?

Well, it means that current versions of iTunes will indeed sync with the Pre — Until Apple pushes out an update to iTunes to block this, as it inevitably will. The sync technology taht they use is, like all Apple technologies, held very close to their company and they are really a fan of the Walled Garden philosophy of software design (we will provide you with approved software for your iPod, approved software for your media sync, and these will only run on approved hardware.) They will change the technology used in the sync on their products, push it out in a iPhone upgrade and an iTunes upgrade, and make it impossible for the Pre to use this Media Sync Feature.

It also entails negative effects on open source applications with the ability to sync to the iPod, such as RhythmBox and Amarok. These tools rely on the standard method of sync that has been reveresed and changing these sync methods will break existing software, if these updates are pushed to the devices.

What does this mean for Palm?

Apple won’t sue The Big Orange over this, in my opinion. Unless there is more code than what Jon originally posted, mimicking a “trade secret” or patented sync method, there is little grounds for anything else that would stand up in court. Sure Palm used iPod values in standard USB descriptors in place of their own, but that is in no way patent infringing or in any way illegal.

The question is not the legal ramifications, but the egg that’s going to be splattered on their face when Apple decides to do something to break this “feature” that Palm has announced as supported and hyped. People buying the phone expecting it to sync flawlessly and JustWork will be disappointed, and Palm will get ever more bad PR.

Just what it needs.

What do you think Apple will do? Will their suits be banging on Palm’s door, or will their sync finally be set free by Big Orange?

Related posts:

  1. iTunes 9 re-breaks Pre media sync
  2. Missing Sync can still sync Pre to iTunes
  3. An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 3)
  4. Apple’s iPod goes Newton(gets a touchscreen)
  5. Palm Pre will sync with iTunes

6 Responses to “Blogger Confirms Pre’s “Media Sync” mode mimics iPod — What next?”

  1. “They will change the technology used in the sync on their products, push it out in a iPhone upgrade and an iTunes upgrade, and make it impossible for the Pre to use this Media Sync Feature.”

    Of course there are many iPods that pre-date the iPhone or iPod Touch…and the most important aspect is, that these cannot be updated by Apple. So depending on how Palm incorporated the compatibility, the only way for Apple to block this might be by discontinuing the support for this entire line. Maybe it is inevitable that they will someday do that…but would Apple really dare doing that? – Will they really say: you’re out you iPod user…you should have bought a newer device if you wanted to use your apparatus the way it was intended and promised by us.

    I doubt that Apple would dare to break their own (non-updatable) products in favour of the iPhone and the iPod Touch…but maybe I’m wrong. Moreover, maybe indeed Palm has used a different approach than these existing Apple products…nobody really knows.

  2. Hey anon,

    The question is: what gen iPod did Palm choose to emulate? Only the “Name” of it, not the 16bit hex identifier. I’ve asked PalmInfoCenter for these details, granted they still have the testing device, let’s see…

    I would assume that Palm chose to emulate the latest model that doesn’t support the apps system yet (but that would be a hell of a twist to learn iPhone apps run on Pre ;) , so that they could be sure all of the latest features are given to the device, fastest USB speed, etc. This device is still upgradeable, and mostly under warranty, so there are still opportunites for Apple to make small changes.

    Whoever is in control of the software wins, legacy hardware or not. It’s just a matter of time, a lot of PR trouble for both companies, and a lot of headaches for users.


  3. There are two paths that Apple can take in the future:

    1. Apple inadvertently breaks compatibility with the Pre in a future iTunes update. Because Apple doesn’t test with the Pre, and sometimes there’s a bug. No big deal. Palm issues a software update and things are great again. Nobody takes any heat, because often these bugs happen.

    2. Apple deliberately locks the Pre out. If Apple does this, they will be CRUCIFIED. Because there’s no technical reason for this; it will be because they are scared of competition.

    I doubt that Apple will take path 2, and if they take path 1, there will be no problem. (If the number of iPod engineers at Palm is any indication, I’m guessing that the Pre emulates that iPod very very well. Enough to make path 1 improbable.)

  4. Hi,
    why should Apple block the Pre out – they earn $$$ on every trick downloaded!

    All the best

  5. Tam,

    Apple is a HUGE believer in the walled garden and believe that no other developers should have their fun in it without Apple’s approval!

  6. Hi,
    yep – but I think that free loot will beat that!

    All the best
    Tam Hanna

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