Dieter did some digging over at PreCentral.net 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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