Yeahbuwhy?! - Palm Spoofs Apple USB Vendor ID, Files Complaint Against Apple for Misuse of USB Vendor ID


Dieter did some digging over at and goes through how Palm re-hacked the iTunes sync. It looks pretty much like what we figured. Palm is spoofing the Apple USB Vendor ID so as to present as an iPod. This is one step deeper than last time, where they still ID'd themselves as a Pre. In a further display of chutzpah, while violating the prohibition against misuse of USB vendor IDs themselves, Palm has filed a complaint against "another company" (we're guessing Apple) for improper use of same.

So let's follow the logic here. Palm is seemingly objecting to Apple using the USB vendor ID to filter out non-Apple devices. Palm doesn't feel that filtering is in keeping with the openness of the USB standard.

What's the alternative, however? For Apple to maintain control over their own software by putting an authentication chip in every iPod/iPhone that handshakes with iTunes before syncing? Or to agree to freely license iTunes interoperability to every device maker on the planet?

That iTunes has achieved a high enough market penetration to be considered a platform, and that scripts for iTunes could be considered "software" on that platform is certainly a legitimate point of view. However, Apple historically takes advantage of only writing software for their own hardware, which means they can change things whenever they want without worrying about breaking third party hardware. Opening up iTunes brings headaches for Apple.

For Palm, we still find it an odd fight to pick. Is it really what Palm wants to spend their time -- and Elevation Partner's -- money on.

webOS was supposed to be a next-generation platform in its own right, something not tied down with a desktop heritage like Apple. Palm, arguably more than even Google in the mobile space at the time, made a point to talk about the cloud, not the desktop -- Synergy, not some USB tether, is how it manages personal information.

And yet they're fixated on iTunes desktop, something even Apple has left entirely behind on iPhone 3.0 except for firmware updates and third-party media transfer.

We'll say it again -- iTunes. Desktop. From a cloud-focused company?

We've already given our theory -- Palm's Apple heritage, Jon Rubinstein's desire to stretch beyond Steve Jobs' shadow, and the press fallout are more important to Palm than webOS or its users. Still, we can't help thinking of the end of Batman Begins...

Palm broke into iTunes. Apple dressed up in the Batsuit and shut them down. Now Palm's got the white warpaint and crazy-wide smile on, and have just flipped over the Joker card.


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Yeahbuwhy?! - Palm Spoofs Apple USB Vendor ID, Files Complaint Against Apple for Misuse of USB Vendor ID


Palm is really going to ruin themselves over this one issue. Please move onto something to improve your WebOS and stop fighting Apple who will gladly smash Pal into dust particles.

Palm would save so much money by just killing the "iPod ID" deal and just syning with Library XML files. Please palm. Give it up. I'm not just trying to shun you from iTunes. Your just going to cause your own users and every oter iTunes user unnecessary hours of time updating iTunes to the next 8.2.X file. Please.

Ummm.. Lets see... Hmmm... Misuse of the Vendor ID. The Vendor ID is uses to... get this, "ID" the manufacture of a device. iTunes "IDs" Apple devices by using the Vendor "ID". How is that missuse? Hahaha.
So Palm spoofs the Vendor ID. How is that not misuse of the Vendor ID?
Good luck with this one Palm.

they should be able to use itunes, but its never going to happen.. apple wouldn't let a rival phone use their software..
palm is definetly bringing this too far. this is just going to escalate into a huge legal battle..

Oh powerful Dieter! Use your powers to summon Jon Rubinstein and tell him to get off from Apples lawn! Please break to him the news that Apple will not suffice to his hacks!

@Big Daddy Frederick:
iTunes was never intended to be an open system. If they want to use it then they need to work out an agreement with Apple. That is like buying a Honda and then sticking a BMW emblem on the hood (like spoofing the VIN ID) and then going to the dealership and demanding free oil changes.

"However, Apple historically takes advantage of only writing software for their own hardware, which means they can change things whenever they want without worrying about breaking third party hardware. Opening up iTunes brings headaches for Apple."
oh heaven forbid.
maybe Microsoft should block itunes or safari from running on windows, or external hard drives and memory cards should prevent computers from connecting with them based on vendor ID. this is music syncing - not the most difficult thing in the world. the only "headache" for apple would be not screwing its customers by locking down its platform.
nobody [that i've heard] is arguing that Apple has to adopt a Microsoft like "backwards compatibility forever" type attitude. Apple merely has to not block by vendor ID and let other companies be responsible for absolutely everything else including firmware updates to match the latest iTunes spec.
additionally, did Apple bother to license all of Palm's PDA patents before going ahead with the iPhone? of course not. Palm pioneered the PDA, and it is easy to say that the iPhone has "ripped them off" in any number of ways. this is merely the chickens coming home to roost for Apple. Palm has a lot going for it in any legal battle, and Apple should be scared of a lawsuit or counter suit.

"That is like buying a Honda and then sticking a BMW emblem on the hood (like spoofing the VIN ID) and then going to the dealership and demanding free oil changes."
it's actually nothing like that.
free oil changes require effort on the dealership's part. iTunes syncing with the Pre requires no effort on iTunes' part. indeed it is Palm that has to do all the work do keep their OS/firmware up to speed with the latest version of iTunes. Apple has to do absolutely nothing.

"iTunes was never intended to be an open system. If they want to use it then they need to work out an agreement with Apple. "
Macs (both Server and Client) masquerade as Windows resources on mixed networks, and have for years, using Open Source software Apple did not even develop, and which was reverse engineered without any consent, licensing, or repayment to Microsoft. So...
"SMB was never intended to be an open system. If Apple want to use it then they need to work out an agreement with Microsoft."
Pot. Kettle. Black.

"Palm would save so much money by just killing the “iPod ID” deal and just syning with Library XML files."
Ummm. That is exactly what Palm is doing. It is just doing it inside the devices instead of having the user install additional software. It lets iTunes take care of copying the files. Are you really so obsessed on where Palm parses XML files? Seriously?
Writing a desktop component would not give any additional functionality that the user does not already have with the current solution. All it does is make it less integrated (see Blackberry's solution).

Plain an simple , I don't care if palm uses iTunes , it makes no diffrence in my life but for a buisness prospective apple should have the say to give the right to use there property (iTunes). Sounds like this will turn into a legal matter that palm can't win. I'm a iPhone owner but with no bias the palm pre seems to be a good phone also.... So why can't they ( if not happy with connecting with XMLfiles) make there own software , pay for usage to a company, or just deal with it .

Oh please if Microsoft locked down their software like that there would be a thousand lawsuits against them on day one. And Apple would probably be the first to file and rightly so.
I love my iPhone but sorry apple is fos on this one.

It would only be a mistake if they're spending loads of man hours on it. Since the fix came out soon after the iTunes update, I'd imagine they're aren't devoting too much of their company resources to fix it.
"leave palm alone!" best Chris Crocker voice

The Windows/iTunes metaphors are specious. Windows is intended to be a platform and Apple is a longtime Windows developer, same as Microsoft is for the Mac.
SMB is a much better example, though Palm might eventually have trouble proving a clean room scenario given their Apple iPod engineers on staff.

"free oil changes require effort on the dealership’s part. iTunes syncing with the Pre requires no effort on iTunes’ part. indeed it is Palm that has to do all the work do keep their OS/firmware up to speed with the latest version of iTunes. Apple has to do absolutely nothing."
actually it does require effort on apples part. When all of the sudden a firmware update breaks iTunes for palm users who would consumers blame? Apple. And why in gods name would apple "freely" help the competition? Think if u had a lemonade stand. The best freggin lemonade stand ever. No one can compete with you but one day a rival group wants to sell cups at ur stand. Now you already have ur own specialty cups. So technically ur still being paid for the lemonade but u aren't making a profit off the cups anymore. And the group is selling it to customers as if it's the same cup but it isn't. and if their cup runs a leak you'll get the blame. Same thing with iTunes. The phone is the cup and the music is the lemonade. It wouldn't smart business-wise to allow them to do it.

I have an iPhone and think it's great !
What I really want to know is who really cares what palmpre are up to and secondly for that matter
How does it affect you as an iPhone user!
So long as apple look after me that's all I care about good luck to the pre it's not my fight

The difference here is that the USB vendor ID spoofing is legal and provided for in the specs. Its designed so that newer devices can work with older device drivers by limiting themselves to a known subset of functionality, and identifying themselves as the older device.
You might consider it shady, but its not a violation of the specifications of USB.
Of course any device spoofing its id bears the responsibility to make sure it actually works.

I'm so sick of companies locking folks into their software or hardware just because you once used it. I have multiple gigs of drm music bought from iTunes. And sorry but I don't think I should be forced to use an iPod device the rest of my life if or when something better comes along.
As far as I'm concerned it should be illegal for any company that sells content to do what Apple is doing here. Either that or they should be required to pop up a disclaimer on every content item they sell that says "yes you're paying for this but you have absolutely no rights to the content - Apple decides where when and if you can use the content, at their whim. Continue with purchase?"

Apple is a B-tch. They are crying about this and cried about the Laptop Hunters ads.
Grow some Nuts or Apples...which ever is first.

SMB is the example, not Windows. The clean-room statement is at best distraction; if Apple thinks they have a case against Palm for stealing trade secrets, they will open that can of worms separately.
The point is that Palm is vilified here (by you, among others) for "hacking" iTunes and masquerading as an iPod so their users can access iTunes music, as if this manner of reverse engineering is somehow immoral. For years, Macs have used a "hacked" version of SMB and spoofed their identify to so their users can participate in Windows networks and access Windows resources.
Why is this same practice immoral for Palm, but ok when Apple does it?

Whatever happened to letting the USER decide what software and what hardware to use? Many early posters decried Palm and defended Apple, when it's in fact Apple that went out of its way to disable the use of another company's product. Guys, it's my computer. I paid for it. It's my Pre. I paid for it. Where on earth do you get the idea that Apple has the right to tell me how I use MY computer and MY smartphone?!?

"actually it does require effort on apples part. When all of the sudden a firmware update breaks iTunes for palm users who would consumers blame? Apple."
maybe consumers should be blaming apple for being so restrictive over where they may or may not listen to their legally purchased media.
"And why in gods name would apple “freely” help the competition?"
because they would be supporting their customers decision to use their legally purchased media on the device they prefer.
it isn't about helping the competition, it is about helping customers.

Palm shouldn't rely on another company's software to provide their consumers with a synching experience.. That's very unprofessional and shows that they don't care about the end user experience.

I'm a bit confused. I have an iphone and I hate itunes. What features is Palm "excited" to piggy-back on? I'll write you a syncing application. geez.

"Palm shouldn’t rely on another company’s software...."
Isn't that what RIM is doing with the Blackberry sync? Some people want to be able to sync their songs they purchased to other devices easily. Palm solution was to cut out the middleware sync software and just let iTunes write to the Pre directly. Then, once the files were written, the software on the Pre would read in the files. One less step as far as the user can tell.

God this is very dramatic! It's not like the whole world depends on Palm and Apple. Apple will do what it think it's best and we'll all have to agree. Relax

People keep complaining about the legally purchased music and I'm sorry but it's the weakest argument ever. I didn't buy music off itunes until a couple months ago because of the DRM restrictions and I owned ipods. I took the time to consider that I was only able to use that music on my ipods so I made an educated decision to not buy music from itunes... Those of you who legally purchased music from itunes legally purchased it to play on your ipods, not on any device, and that was negotiated with the record labels.
Biggest problem with our country is accountability. 1) It is the consumer's fault for buying music from a store that locked down their music and it was always very clearly the case. 2) The music is now DRM-free so chip in the extra money and stop complaining; and don't say that apple is milking extra money from the consumer because they sold the customer a product that was clearly locked down with DRM and they have financial obligations to the record companies for DRM-free music.
If you didn't take the time to educate yourself to what you were buying it's not apple's fault; act like adults and take responsibility for your poor decisions.

Oh pleeze another fanboy giving us every excuse in the world why some mega corp has the perfect right (if not the settled law precedent) to screw it's customers!
May I remind you of a famous peoples court ruling by the emminent judge wapner himself, "you can put up any sign you want to in your store, but that doesn't make what the sign says legal'"
indeed, fanboy!

Like it or not Apple has every right to say who can and cannot use there software. iTunes was made to be used with the Apple's products and no matter how much people whine about it Apple is in there right to say no.
Carriers have their own private music and app stores. VzW has the VzAppZone.. I don't see AT&T phones downloading from Verizon's app store....

it's not palm's software. apple put money and time into developing itunes for THEIR product line. plain and simple. sure its your computer. it may very well be your music. but it is THEIR software and they can use it however they feel fit and you agree to that every time you accept the terms and conditions before you install. it really isn't that hard to make a syncing program specifically for the pre. hell helio had its own sycing program and sprint has a much larger customer base than helio ever will. palm is going out their way to try and make a statement and i for one am glad apple isn't having it. let them make their own software. matter of fact, let them make a better software to spark competition.

"let them make their own software."
this has been repeated many times in these comments: the pre already has its own syncing options and its own music store through amazon. iTunes syncing is available as a secondary option for people who already have large itunes based collections.
"The music is now DRM-free so chip in the extra money and stop complaining;"
even the DRM free music is synced through iTunes, and it still ends up organized in the iTunes library, so a device that interacts with iTunes directly is going to be the best option for the iTunes customer whether the music is DRMed or not.
"Like it or not Apple has every right to say who can and cannot use there software."
software is a tool. when you buy a hammer, does the hammer manufacturer have every right to determine what nails you are allowed to use with the hammer?
that's not "freedom" or "free market", that's a large company attempting to use a government regulated legal framework to determine how you we may or may not use our tools.
palm is helping people take greater control over the tools in their possession, and that's good for customers and good for the marketplace.

the Apple DRMed files won't play on the Pre anyway, so we are only talking about the cross device potential of the unencrypted files in the iTunes library - which is still a form of light, trivially circumvented pseudo-DRM [what palm is doing does appear to be trivial].

@ Striatic,
"the pre already has its own syncing options and its own music store through amazon". Exactly, alternative or not, Palm should stick with the decision they made when choosing Amazon as it's main music supplier and stop trying to
force themselves into the iTunes echo system. Honestly this just makes Palm come across as a desperate stalker won't take no for an answer.

@Striatic: Again your wrong. Just because iTunes is a software does not mean it is forced to be usable for every single hardware. A company has every right to make a Store for their own products and block hardware that isn't theres.
iTunes is considered a luxury not a necessity like a hammer. So your statement does not hold water. In the case of iTunes it is an online E-store setup for customers to use for their Apple products. Apple has every right to say there store will not support third party hardware. It doesn't matter that you can download it on your Mac or Windows machine it is still an e-store designed to be with their mp3 players and phones. I don't see anyone bitching about the Zune Pass thats available only to Zunes.... I can't use the Zune pass with my iPhone....
People have an alternative to iTunes and for those bitching about how Apple is abusing i have to say... They are morons..... Read your EULA when you get iTunes as they state no third party hardware can sync to their store. Meaning its a store meant to service their products.

Think myself apple are shooting them selfs in the foot , we pay alot of money for music on itunes and should be able to use any device to play it on , i see apple if they are not carefull ending in court for anti competition and they will loose just like microsoft did with internet explorer in windows, apple dont pay royaltys for the music they sell and just make money , if palm users buy music with itunes then apple will only gain from it , apple can if they let all models work with itunes make the others loose , like nokia music store , why should we pay 2 times for the same music ? One universal store would be perfect and seeing as apple has the largest they can only do one thing. Make profit , thats also what apples about

You might want to read further down your own link -- Samba not only implements the original IBM specification, but also Microsoft's subsequent extensions, which Allison & co. most definitely reverse engineered.
Whether you want to call the use of Samba "hacking" or not, the simple fact is that Macs using Samba (server or client) portray themselves as Windows services to other devices on the network -- effectively masquerading their true type. This is the same behavior others are decrying as immoral "hacking" when Palm does it.

@Thumper_UK: Its not anti-competitive to ban third party hardware from syncing to iTunes. Whine about it all you want but thats like me crying that I have to buy an iPhone to use Apple's App Store....
Why does Apple have to offer a universal store when Amazon already does? You read the Eula and you agreed to Apple's terms when you made an account with them. Its not anti-competitive to make a store that only services your products. With your logic i should be able to use STEAM (An e-video game store on Window's based PC) on a Mac. How dare Valve make an online Video game store and force me to buy Window's based Computers because they will not support OS X or Linux based computers..

@Jeff what I was attempting to say is: why doesn't palm just stop pretending to be an iPod and simply use the files not the software that stores them. I'm sure I'll get anoter remark on this comment but, hey, this is what commenters do, we read, argue, reread, edit, slowly back away when the fire gets out of control. Anyways, why doesn't palm just quit faking it's way into iTunes and simply find the files/songs in this case/ and sync them over. If this isn't possible someone chime in and explain how this works.

@Hakala Isn't finding the files in the iTunes library and sync'ing using the iTunes ecosystem? How is that better? If anyone here has ever used a program other than iTunes to import/export files into your iTunes library or device, then you are just as guilty as Palm. All the Pre is saying is "give me the files, I'll figure out what to do with them." Much simpler than trying to plugin a program on the desktop to interact with iTunes.

@lolypopjones if itunes were a mac only app then i would agree with you but 80% of apples itunes customers are windows users , this means apple have to piggie back on another system as well , ok the war between apple and microsoft is long over in the eyes of jobs and gates ( who both work together more than you would think ) but ii there was an option to transfer your itunes music over to a palm app then it would be sorted. In these days where 2 software giants can work together it seems abit childish that this is happening. , if the pre was not a threat to apples iphone market this would not even be news as i can hook up my wifes blackberry with a special app and sync itunes music to her blackberry , and i dont see apple stopping that as the blackberry is a different market , if apple feel threatened then instead of making a poor update iphone make the hot baby we all want , iam sure in 2010 they will have that if they dont kill the iphone market with the ipod touch coming with a camera and mic , which would be easy for a compsny to make a bolt on gsm adapter to make the touch a poor
mans iphone The whole palm pissing off apple will in the end be better for all of us , as it will make apple produce the pre killing iphone , so we will gain there as long as its build is not crap like the 3gs is , i expected more this year like a hd iphone or atleast a 8mp camera on our phones this time , and yes i have both a 3g 8gb and a 32gb 3gs so i do like apple products i just hope the pre will get apple to produce a really hot upgrade well we see what happens when steve jobs is sick and away from apple ( not a lot ) now hes back i hope we see apple doing what they are good at and that is giving us the wow factor for next years upgrades.

From what I have read, all media players and phones that currently sync with iTunes have paid Apple a license fee to do so. It seems to me that Palm is doing this simply to bypass the license fee. How is hacking the USB ID to bypass this license any different than someone hacking the BIOS on their computer so Windows 7 thinks its a Lenovo machine and bypass the Windows licensing scheme to use the Lenovo Master OEM key?

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