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Updated: Apple to Palm -- Careful Playing on our iTunes Lawn!

Not quite "get off our lawn", yet clearly a sign post warning that the lawn might on day get a tad hostile if you choose to linger there without leave. Here it is, via Daring Fireball, Apple's latest Knowledge Base Article: iTunes: About unsupported third-party digital media players (opens in new tab), aka the Palm Pre syncing saga:

This article is about iTunes and unsupported third-party digital media players.Products Affected iTunesApple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store, and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store. Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players and, because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple's iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players.

So, if/when iTunes breaks compatibility with the Palm Pre -- intentionally, incidentally, or otherwise, does this cover Apple?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

14 Comments
  • It seems to me like it would cover Apple... iTunes is for Apple hardware only. If some other hardware is able to use it, then great for them. I'm sure Apple has considered that limiting iTunes to only their hardware may negatively impact iTunes sales.
  • It basically declares that if your third party sync solution fails, you have to look to your hardware provide (e.g., Palm) not to Apple.
    Being in a tech industry, I am pretty sure that Apple is annoyed by this. When iTunes fails with the Pre, Apple will be deluged with tech calls.
    It would be to Apple's advantage to license a seamless API for other vendors to use iTunes and get a royalty from the other vendor to use it....
  • I'm with Apple on this one.
    To me this whole situation looks like Palm, more than anything, tries to annoy Apple... First the feud with multi-touch and the Patents, now incorporating their device with iTunes, without paying any royalties...
    Seriously Palm guys... Get off Apple's dick...
  • You guys are totally misreading this.
    If you ask me that wording amounts to tacit approval to use third party devices, without Apple assuming any liability for their continued operation.
    Its not a declaration of intent to disable, simply a statement saying its not our responsibility to fix it if it accidentally breaks.
    In Lawyer speak, they gave approval.
    Its not saying :"Get off my lawn",
    not saying "private property, keep out"
    not saying "No swimming!"
    More like "No lifeguard on Duty".
    In Lawyer talk, they just said "Ok".
  • @reneritchie how long is the iPhone optimized site gonna be down?
  • Ugh....I hate iTunes, but I dream of the day when it is made usable with any mp3 player. I hate having to keep guiding my boyfriend to non-iTunes software to sync his mp3 player. It is like Internet Explorer for some people, they can't stay away despite the fact that it is very bad at what it does...
  • I can't stand syncing with Windows Media Player - I love iTunes and I hope more devices become compatible with it.
  • While i don't support big companies pushing out the others. I do feel that apple is in the right here and I would be against an intentional update to block the pre, i am surprised we haven't yet seen one.
    But I don't think apple will do anything as long as thepre inst any real competition.
  • I doubt anyone is specifically buying the Pre for iTunes support so it seams logical leave things alone and collect some money from the Pre guys that buy music with iTunes.
  • It has to be hard for other devices to compete. There are millions of iPods out there and I barely know anyone who doesn't use iTunes to manage their content. For that reason alone it almost makes it hard for people to use other devices as their primary portable audio source. I think that this does cover Apple, but seeing as this is their software and a piece of hardware that is not supported by them, they don't really have to do anything to be "covered" from a legal standpoint. However, that won't prevent lots of people from thinking that Apple support will be able to help them if their Pre stops responding to iTunes. I think Palm will foresee this though and tackle any bugs as quickly as their can with iTunes sync and also will have lots of phone people with iTunes knowledge to take these issues down before it becomes a big deal.
  • I'm totally with Apple. We all click the little button that says "I Agree" to the license agreement. We go into it KNOWING that the iTunes software is for the iPod and iPhone.
    Just because you decided to suck out and get a glorified slider-phone, doesn't mean you get to skimp out on making your own music or paying Apple to commercially license the use of their product...just saying....
    Oh well though, if you have to fight to live up to a big brother, I guess you'll get the beat down like all big brothers hand out.
  • To Palm: grow some funk of your own.
  • Accidentally, Apple does not even need to be covered -- they have zero responsibility to support Palm or Palm's customers. Intentionally, no, this would not cover Apple. If Apple breaks Pre syncing without breaking syncing for the Ipod models the Pre masquerades, it would not be difficult for Palm to bring a costly suit.
    Worse would be the possibility of the iTunes Music Store catching the Department of Justice's eye. While the government has declined investigating the iTMS in the past, this, combined with the iTMS spectacular growth since they looked at it in 2005, could cause them to revisit. Monopoly laws deal specifically with a dominant player in one market leveraging its position to take undue advantage in another market. (Yes, lawyers out there -- the 7th Circuit ruled this leveraging is not sufficient by itself to violate the Sherman act, but it is certainly enough to get the DoJ bloodhounds sniffing.)
    If Apple intentionally mucks with the Pre, it seems pretty clear they would be leveraging their online music dominance to gain traction in the cel phone market. It might not be a monopoly case, but if the DoJ decided to dig, whatever damage increased Pre sales would bring pales in comparison to the financial and consumer mindshare/goodwill damage of defending against the government. Apple is not stupid; they are not going to risk that fight unless the Pre endangers all of Cupertino, which is not bloody likely.
    The "no lifeguard on duty" analogy is very apt here; Apple is running up a flag for Palm (and the government) that they are not taking untoward steps to prevent syncing, but that if something does break in the future, there is no intent behind it.
  • I say apple should relax, we pre users are here to stay. Sorry fanboys