Why Apple Should Let Other Devices Connect To iTunes
from the stop-complaining dept
We’ve mentioned in the past how silly it is that Apple blocks the Palm Pre and other devices from accessing iTunes. Plenty of people responded, pointing out that Apple really makes its money on the hardware, and thus it makes no sense to allow other hardware products to connect to iTunes. While I agree that Apple makes its money off the hardware, I still disagree that Apple should block others out. In doing so, it makes me and many others less likely to purchase an Apple product, because I don’t want to get trapped into Apple hardware. I’d much rather a more open solution.
Over at Slate, Farhad Manjoo has written up a wonderful explanation of why Apple should not just allow the Palm Pre and others to connect to iTunes, but it should encourage it. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s a snippet:
I hope the company continues to search for ways to sync with iTunes, because the fight–silly as it seems–is important, and Palm is clearly in the right. Apple may have the USB-IF on its side, and it may also be protected by copyright law. But by blocking non-Apple devices from its music app, Apple is violating a more fundamental principle of computing–that unalike devices should be able to connect to one another freely. The principle underlies everything we take for granted in tech today: It’s why the Internet, your home network, and the PC function at all. And it’s why Palm should keep storming the iTunes fortress.
I am not claiming that Palm has the legal right to hack into Apple’s software, nor am I calling on any authorities to compel Apple to let Palm in; if the cat-and-mouse game turns into a courtroom brawl, it’s very likely that Apple would win the fight. Instead, I’m calling on Apple to stand down. Even better: It should create a legal pathway for Palm and every other company to sync with iTunes. Why? The most obvious reason is that it’s good for iTunes users. Nobody other than Apple benefits from locked-down software. Apple frequently extols the wonders of digital music–the convenience, the flexibility, the environmental friendliness. But how flexible can it be if you’re allowed to sync your tunes only with devices made by a single company?
What’s more, the iTunes block is hypocritical. Like every other tech company, Apple has benefited enormously from the spirit of interconnectedness that pervades the tech industry. The iPod would have fizzled if Microsoft had blocked it from hooking up to Windows PCs. Or look at the iPhone–Apple is proud that it can sync with Outlook, Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, and just about everything else. Indeed, you could argue that Apple, once left for dead on the periphery of the tech industry, managed to come back only because it skillfully marketed Macs as the most promiscuous computers you could buy.
Indeed. While it’s unlikely that Apple will actually do this, it would be a smart move. No one’s buying Apple hardware because it syncs with iTunes. They’re buying it for many other reasons, and Apple can continue to compete on those. Blocking the Pre and other devices from accessing iTunes is petty and unnecessary.