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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Tyler, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    Recording

    I'm just wondering how this is very much different in the recording industry - see Pro Tools. Pro Tools' software can only be utilized with digidesign hardware, and while it can act as the control module for Logic, Reason, Sonar, etc. There are no hardware (except for Digidesign or M-Audio) that can control Pro Tools.

    Perhaps there is a logistical reason for this, but it just makes running a small operation studio incredibly difficult and annoying - regardless of how much more economical hardware there is, for any kind of compatibility, one MUST use Digi devices.

     

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    tom, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    Let me get this straight

    Apple doesn't make money on iTunes so it locks out all the other potential customers who didn't buy an iPod. Why does that make sense to anybody?

     

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      Designerfx (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

      Re: Let me get this straight

      they have said they don't make money on itunes, but given the volume I'd find that to be an outright lie at minimum. Consider that a penny a sale for a million sales a day, isn't chump change anymore even if it's a fraction of that, which I highly doubt.

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re: Let me get this straight

        a penny a sale is only 10,000 USD per day

         

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          TheStupidOne, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Let me get this straight

          or 3,650,000 a year ... I don't know Apple's financial information but I imagine it costs less than that for their bandwidth + servers + employees and they probably get more than a penny per sale

           

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        Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

        Re: Re: Let me get this straight

        itunes music sales have been profitable to them for a very long time now. they state so in their quarterly announcements.

         

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        ChadBroChill (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

        Re: Re: Let me get this straight

        I believe they take a 50% commission. I could be wrong, but that's what I heard. That's why I don't buy things on iTunes, I would rather support the artist than support Apple. Artists should use bittorrent as a free way to distribute, then accept donations for the music. This way, the people who pay for it already will be giving the full amount to the artist, and those who don't want to pay the current prices could still support the artist in a smaller way.

         

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    Eric (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    What if?

    What if Apple's deals with the recording, TV, and film industry do not allow iTunes to sync with any device? Remember that TV and film downloads still contain DRM and that Apple does not, or may not be able to, license that technology to others....

    I think going after Apple without all the details is kinda silly.

    Eric

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Alas, no worries!

    Apple is also pushing (to unsuspecting people under the pretense of an update to existing software) iPhone software for Windows users!

    Hey, a round of applause to Apple, who blocks everyone's app, installs sneaky software, and believes DRM is the best thing since sliced bread.

    As long as customers are buying, Apple couldn't care less about the rantings of others, regardless how much it makes sense.

    This attitude once pushed them near bankruptcy and it's appalling this company has learned *nothing* from its past.

    One day, I hope to see Apple degrade into a useless core of dead seeds for stupidity such as this. Of course, with RIAA (et al) making more pushes to lobby Congress for change... it's all but inevitable.

     

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    Beta, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    "In [blocking non-apple hardware], 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 agree that blocking is annoying, but I don't see the logic here. It seems to reduce to "I don't want to try iTunes because I might get addicted." If you're willing to live without iTunes, then you're not stuck with Apple hardware no matter what Apple does with iTunes.

     

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      eMike (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

      Re:

      I personally don't like buying iPods because apple makes it difficult (not impossible thankfully) to add media from anything but iTunes. I think that's a shame because its interface is better than most (at least better than the Sansa devices that I've started buying instead of iPods).

      I also don't like the iTunes interface however.

      I used to be under Apple's spell, but I slowly grew to resent how difficult it was to work with them from other devices. I've got a highly connected house where I don't heavily favor one tech over another. As time went by I found myself limited by Apple (and I'm including their PCs) rather than the liberation that you're supposed to feel when using a computing platform. There was always something I wanted to do but couldn't for no good reason.

       

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        zenasprime, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

        Re: Re:

        This is not true. I would say that 99% of my audio and video library of over 500GB was ripped from my own CDs and DVDs. I use iTunes and I own a few different iPods and I have never had an issue with any of my media. Where did you get this information from?

         

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          senshikaze (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:43pm

          he meant

          from different apps, I am assuming. Only amarok can access the iPod (maybe banshee) in Linux. Not exactly playing nice with others. For me, iPod/iTunes is useless because of the fact I use Linux. Thankfully, Jamendo is there to fill in the gaps. Though I wish more people liked the bands i do. the torrents need seeding :)

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    **DEAR MEMBERS OF THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS PRESS**

    Please do not make the mistake that many in your profession have made on this topic: That mistake is failing to understand that there is a difference between the iTunes application and the iTunes library.

    The iTunes application is Apple's gateway to the iTunes library for APPLE devices.

    For non-Apple devices, Apple provides an API to the iTunes library so that other software developers/device manufacturers can develop their own software to connect their own devices to the iTunes library.

    RIM has appropriately used that API to write it's own software which allows RIM devices to access the iTunes library. It is no more fair/logical/intuitive to claim that Apple *should* allow non-Apple devices to connect to the iTunes application than it is to claim that RIM *should* allow Apple devices to connect to the BlackBerry Media Sync application.

    Palm is simply unwilling or (more likely) unable to develop their own software to connect their devices to the iTunes library, which is why they have tried to co-opt Apple's USB vendor ID is plainly and unequivocally W.R.O.N.G.

    If you can't see that, you're less principled than we all had previously thought.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      Palm is simply unwilling or (more likely) unable to develop their own software to connect their devices to the iTunes library, which is why they have tried to co-opt Apple's USB vendor ID is plainly and unequivocally W.R.O.N.G.

      Why? This is a serious question. Why make Palm go through the trouble of writing entirely new software when it can reasonably make use of already existing software?

      I have trouble understanding why avoiding such wasted effort is W.R.O.N.G.

       

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        Bonsai, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:20pm

        Re: Re:

        It is W.R.O.N.G because you can reasonably expect commercial entities to put some of their own effort into their products and not fake stuff. Faking is W.R.O.N.G. Abusing others labour without permission is W.R.O.N.G.
        Telling your customers you have seamless integration with iTunes when you haven't is W.R.O.N.G. Accusing Apple of breaking rules when you are in fact doing it is W.R.O.N.G

        You don't seem to understand that Apple is already providing other companies with the software and the connections (specially provided xml files) to take advantage of the Apple the iTunes infrastructure.

        Palm are W.R.O.N.G, have been put in their place, and are retreating. I think you are one of the few people who still don't understand that...

         

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          pjhenry1216 (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You never actually answered the question. When you break down your argument, you still just say, "It's wrong because what they're doing is wrong." Why is it wrong? How is Palm "abusing" Apple's labor? Apple isn't putting any extra effort in here. In fact, they're making more for themselves. In the end, Apple is abusing their own labor.

          Plus, you realize in this fight, the consumer should technically side with Palm. There's really no reason to side with Apple. They're hindering consumers. Apple: "Oh, you use iTunes because you like it? Oh wait, but you don't have an iPod or iPhone. We're sorry, you'll have to learn to use another application if you actually want to sync your library with anything. Its not that we hate it but... oh wait... I guess we kind of do."

           

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        zenasprime, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:33pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't understand why anyone thinks it's Apple's responsibility to make sure it's (free) software works with anyone else's hardware. Especially as has been already said, Apple is peddling hardware. It makes no sense for them to need to make things easier for their competitors.

        Now, if this was a discussion about users being forced into using iTunes to sync their iPods, I'd have more of an understanding of where you were coming from, even though I'd still contend that this would be more of a customer service issue rather then something a some sort of moral/ethical delema.

         

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          pjhenry1216 (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No one is asking Apple to make sure its software works with anyone else's hardware. Folks are asking that they stop *crippling* their own software so that it won't work with anyone else's hardware. There's a vastly huge difference. Just as they use hardware DRM to force OS X to only run on Mac hardware, its not a matter of incompatibility as to why other devices can't sync with iTunes.

           

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            rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Crap. That's EXACTLY what you and Mike are asking!

            Why is it wrong? Because both Palm and Apple are signatories to the USB Implementers Forum [USB-IF], a member group that oversees the implementation of USB in the industry, and IT has ruled, on Palm's own inquiry, that Palm has wrongfully used Apple's USB ID in piggy-backing on Apple's software.

            Because PALM agreed to adhere to the industry standard, and they have failed to live up to that standard!

            THAT'S why it's wrong.

            Apple has provided a perfectly acceptable method for third parties to access the iTunes library, using the third parties' own, proprietary software, without stepping into Apple's territory.

            What the heck is wrong with that? It allows those third parties to write their own software that meshes perfectly well with the features and functions of their own devices, and allows for those third parties to innovate with their own ideas while allowing customers access to their own music stored in an iTunes library.

            I always thought innovation was what Techdirt was all about!

             

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              nasch (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The only reason they spoofed the ID (not commenting on whether that was a good idea or not) is because Apple made it so only devices identifying as iPods can use iTunes. The point of this post is - why would Apple do that? They went out of their way and spent extra time and effort to make sure that other devices cannot use the software they had already built anyway. If they had just done nothing extra, any device could sync with the iTunes app. Who benefits from the current situation, and how?

               

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                rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:27am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "The point of this post is - why would Apple do that?"

                Obviously, because the USB ID protocol uses that as a way for a company to identify a product that has connected to a USB port. That has nothing to do with keeping others' products OUT, but identifying one's OWN products so your OS can do what it is supposed to do with that product! It will distinguish between an iPhone and an iPod, so iTunes knows which is connected.


                It was PALM'S illegal use of that ID that brought this to a head, why do you defend the illegal use of that ID on Palms part?

                Again, Apple has provided a perfectly useable public API to allow third parties to connect with the iTunes Library, which RIM has very successfully done. Nobody complained when RIM came out with their own app! Nobody asked them why they weren't using iTunes, did they?

                If Apple deliberately allowed other companies to use iTunes, they would be obligated to see that their software didn't break anything on those third party devices. Obviously, that would be a huge addition to the cost of updating iTunes. Apple is not a non-profit charity.

                 

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        Ale, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 10:19am

        Re: Re:

        Because Apple is not in the Bussiness of making Palm users Happy. Is in the Bussiness of making Apple users Happy. Imagine you have a Shop, you make a parking lot for your customers so they can park freely, and one of your competitors start promoting that you can buy in their's shop and still park in your parking lot... do you think you would consider this fair?

         

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      Lowerison (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

      Re: Just connect the right way...

      Here Here. Palm Needs to quit Whining about how Apples software which was written for their own hardware blocks the hack job way that they connected. Apple should not allow it. Simple as that. If Apple allows it. Then Apple gets support requests for Palm Stuff. Palm is supposed to be this resurgent company doing awesome stuff in mobile where frankly they have been stagnant... Palm take the time to write a compelling package that either uses the iTunes Library API to manage syncing or role your own. Just go ahead and make another option in your sync software for your calendar, email etc sync if you still need that... (andriod doesn't) and quit the crying. It is very unusual that I disagree with Mike but in this case I think Apple has a nice integrated solution for their clients (Hardware and software users) and shouldn't need to worry about supporting the devices of companies that can't write their own compelling solutions but rather use a hack and forged key to gain access. If I was the USB folks I would be ripping Palm a new one.

       

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      Lowerison (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

      Re: Just connect the right way...

      Here Here. Palm Needs to quit Whining about how Apples software which was written for their own hardware blocks the hack job way that they connected. Apple should not allow it. Simple as that. If Apple allows it. Then Apple gets support requests for Palm Stuff. Palm is supposed to be this resurgent company doing awesome stuff in mobile where frankly they have been stagnant... Palm take the time to write a compelling package that either uses the iTunes Library API to manage syncing or role your own. Just go ahead and make another option in your sync software for your calendar, email etc sync if you still need that... (andriod doesn't) and quit the crying. It is very unusual that I disagree with Mike but in this case I think Apple has a nice integrated solution for their clients (Hardware and software users) and shouldn't need to worry about supporting the devices of companies that can't write their own compelling solutions but rather use a hack and forged key to gain access. If I was the USB folks I would be ripping Palm a new one.

       

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      David, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:27am

      Palm DID develop its own software

      Palm is simply unwilling or (more likely) unable to develop their own software to connect their devices to the iTunes library, which is why they have tried to co-opt Apple's USB vendor ID is plainly and unequivocally W.R.O.N.G.

      That is just plain incorrect. They went out of their way to make the Prē behave just like an iPod. Do you think that just magically happens simply by changing its ID? Not at all. They had to reverse-engineer the iTunes protocol (something that was figured out by many others long ago) and write software so that the Prē could speak that protocol and present the device’s contents as if they were using the iPod’s (convoluted) filesystem. That is no small task. The result: the Prē behaves exactly like the iPod, and users don’t have to install a third-party sync programme in order to use iTunes with the Prē. This is less work for users, and that is a good thing—all thanks to the hard work done at Palm and the software developed there.

      Apple’s engineers did not have to do a single thing. Palm did all the hard work for them. Despite that, they went out of their way from blocking the Prē. How can such a move be seen as anything other than disgusting, anti-user, anti-competitive?

      So, please stop making bad arguments based on ignorance. Learn the facts first.

       

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        rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:59am

        Re: Palm DID develop its own software

        Sounds to me that Palm's engineers went out of THEIR way to avoid doing what they should have in the first place - engineer their own music management software to hook into the iTunes Library - which is a PUBLIC API Apple provides in order for companies to do just that.

        Why would an independent company want to lock their customers into using another company's software? Palm could have just as easily designed and written their own music management software to do what RIM did, and then would have had a device whose OS was written specifically to take advantage of their OWN music management software, which could have been written to do things the PALM way, instead of the Apple way.

        But this way, they are subject to Apple's whim in how they will write and release future software, and Apple NEVER publicly announces future product roadmaps.

        Bad move on Palm's part, just on this score alone, but when you pitch in their using that spoofed ID, they were wrong all over, and the USB folks are calling them on it!

        Again, this is NOT Apple's fault, it is PALM'S fault, and they have nothing to gripe about.

         

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          David, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

          Re: Re: Palm DID develop its own software

          So, now you blame them for making their users’ lives easier? God forbid anyone other than Apple should make user-friendly products!

          And, for you information, violating USB-IF rules just means that they cannot display a certain logo on their products. Big deal. Luckily, this part of the market is actually free, and they can continue to sell devices with USB ports all they want, even if they cannot add that logo (which no one will notice anyway).

           

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            rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Palm DID develop its own software

            Obviously, they DO think its a big deal since Palm brought the complaint to that forum in the first place.

            I blame them for being lazy, or cheap, or both, for failing to do what they SHOULD have done in the first place - emulated RIM and write their own software!

             

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              David, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Palm DID develop its own software

              Obviously, they DO think its a big deal since Palm brought the complaint to that forum in the first place.

              That makes no sense whatsoever. What they thought was a big deal was Apple’s behaviour—that’s why they brought the complaint. They wanted to shed light on Apple’s behaviour and to encourage Apple to change.

              I blame them for being lazy, or cheap, or both, for failing to do what they SHOULD have done in the first place - emulated RIM and write their own software!

              Lazy and cheap for diverting resources into making the Prē talk to iTunes (which is hard) instead of writing yet another piece of software for user to install (which is easy)? They devoted extra time and money because they wanted to give their users a good experience—despite Apple hating its users that use non-Apple devices. Why in the world should they force their iTunes-using users to install something to use iTunes with the Prē when there’s a more user-friendly alternative: emulating the iPod?

              Let me also remind you that most PCs are not made by IBM, yet they are called ‘IBM-compatible’ because many companies in the 80s decided to reverse-engineer IBM’s hardware and emulate it. Thus, software written for IBM machines was able to run on non-IBM PCs. The free market then allowed an explosion of innovation and progress. That’s freedom and capitalism. The current situation is no different.

              If you’re going to troll, at least try to make some sense.

               

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                rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:50pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Palm DID develop its own software

                Look, troll, (see, I can make ad hominem attacks too!) what PCs are called today has nothing to do with the argument. All that was done UNDER LICENSE, which Palm's actions certainly were NOT.

                Your argument that Palm made an extraordinary effort to emulate the iPod makes no sense either. Please explain what good business sense it makes to do something HARD to avoid something EASY??

                I will, because they wanted to ride upon Apple's success. Instead of designing a system between an MP3 player and a music management app, which is the TRULY hard job, they did the relatively easy job of just making their device fake being an iPod, because Apple has already done the hard part.

                ...and yeah, what they did IS the user friendly way, since they were obviously unable to do anything user friendly themselves.

                Maybe you should practice making sense...

                 

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                  David, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 11:50pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Palm DID develop its own software

                  It was never done under license. It was clean-room reverse-engineered. Compatibility is enforced by market forces, not by some governing body. And this wasn’t some small software protocol; it was the design of a whole microprocessor. The whole PC market today thrives due to this act—which IBM never sanctioned. You should really read up some computing history. It’s quite fascinating, and you will find it goes completely against how you wish things were.

                  My attach wasn’t ad hominem. I was merely describing the situation. I offered informative replies. You, on the other, completely ignored what I said and “replied” by offered incoherent self-contradictory statements. I do not take kindly to people arguing with me without even bothering to read what I said. That is troll behaviour, and I will not tolerate it. For example, you write:

                  Please explain what good business sense it makes to do something HARD to avoid something EASY??

                  This is proof positive that you have not ready anything that anyone disagreeing with you has said on this topic, including me. Could you possibly be more rude? We have already explained this a million times over. The business sense is that doing this hard things makes life easier for Palm’s users. Because of Palm’s efforts, Palm’s customers won’t have to go out of their way to install software to use iTunes (which most won’t even do in the first place). Instead, it Just Works. Sounds familiar, Apple fanboy? It makes perfect business sense. Of course, since you didn’t understand this the several other times I said it, I don’t expect you to understand it now. I have no doubt you will reply yet again without bothering to respond to anything I’ve actually said, but will instead repeat the same debunked lies. Mike must be a saint for replying to people like you as often as he does. I, on the other hand, will not dignify people who waste my time by wasting any more time on you.

                   

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                    rwahrens (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:43am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Palm DID develop its own software

                    Rude? I was rude? I wasn't the first to use the term TROLL because my opponent disagreed with me! Don't go getting all high and mighty with the ethics of discussion when you were the first to go south on it.

                    And yes, calling someone a troll is an ad hominem attack, period, it is attacking the messenger not the message.

                    No you haven't explained "this" any more times than those that believe as I do have as well, that's why this is a discussion, you know, where BOTH sides have a chance to air their point of view?

                    " Because of Palm’s efforts, Palm’s customers won’t have to go out of their way to install software to use iTunes (which most won’t even do in the first place). "

                    See? You've already undermined your own argument. First of all, "because of Palm's efforts", their customers now have NO WAY to sync their Pres with their iTunes music. That is because the way they did it was counter to the USB protocol, illegal, and just plain unethical to boot. Apple is under NO obligation to continue to allow Palm, or any other third party manufacturer, to continue to use Apple software for their own purposes.

                    So, no, it DOESN'T "just work", nor should it.

                    Oh, and here we go again with the ad hominem, calling me a fanboy. Just another technique to make an argument where you have none.

                    Sure, I understand your argument, but you are wrong.

                    Palm made a bad business decision in failing to write their own software to take advantage of a publicly available API to link to their customers' iTunes Libraries, because they have NO WAY to stop Apple from blocking their attempts to keep doing it. This is evidenced by the fact that Palm's last update to the Pre failed to even TRY to do it again. I notice you haven't even tried to answer to the fact that RIM has done it right and has no issues with syncing Blackberries to iTunes.

                    In spite of all your insults and twisting of the facts, you are still wrong, no matter how often you try to say you are not, and no matter how often you insult me personally.

                     

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    Bonsai, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    One more time...

    Apple is not locking anybody out of iTunes. The files for playlists are available to anyone who wants them. Syncing with iTunes is easy. I am not much of a programmer but even I can use xml files.

    There are even alternatives to iTunes for managing music already on the market. Apple is not keeping Palm from their users enjoying music bought from iTunes, it is Palm who have let their customers down in a big way, if not downright deceived them by claiming seamless iTunes integration, and abused their trust by using illegal means to provide the sync.

    Palm have a great history of great products, but it's entirely their own fault they are the underdog here, that some people think they have to rout for at all cost. Palm had the PDA market in the 'palm' of their hand but they let Microsoft in and stopped innovating. Instead they hooked up with MS and were eventually hung out to dry.

    Palm should have sorted out the media side of their devices thoroughly before going to market, they are now doing the decent thing and moving to Amazon, which they should probably have done in the first place. And they should still provide their customers with an iTunes connection, which they easily and legally could provide. Alas, that would not give them the sympathy vote from the tech blogging crowd, so probably they may deem it too much hard work and Pre users are the ones who are missing out...

     

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      pjhenry1216 (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:42am

      Re: One more time...

      Apple is screwing over anybody who doesn't want to use their hardware. Why are they forcing fans of their software to have to install, learn, use, and manage an entirely different application for the sole reason that they don't own an iPod. If Microsoft's Zune software was top dog like iTunes, people would be screaming about it (and please, don't try and lie and say you'd backup Microsoft. Microsoft has used their leverage all the time and get kicked for it. Here, Apple is using theirs and you're defending them.)

      Personally, I think they should drop iTunes support. If iTunes isn't going to play nice, why should they? If the iTunes application isn't going to work with anything else then why should anyone go out of their way to work with iTunes. Its frankly hypocritical of you.

       

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        MeMeMe, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 11:19am

        Re: Re: One more time...

        "Apple is screwing over anybody who doesn't want to use their hardware. Why are they forcing fans of their software to have to install, learn, use, and manage an entirely different application for the sole reason that they don't own an iPod."

        That's rich! If the 'fans' don't want to use the whole Apple iPod/iTunes system, they have NO right to use part of it because Apple designed it as an integrated system. Saying 'no iPod, no iTunes' is Apple's right as the designer/author of the hardware/software system.

        "Personally, I think they should drop iTunes support. If iTunes isn't going to play nice, why should they? If the iTunes application isn't going to work with anything else then why should anyone go out of their way to work with iTunes."

        I agree, they should ALL drop iTunes support, and just use Apple's approved APIs to access the music library with their own third-rate software. That'll show 'em! ;-)

         

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    Steve R. (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    It's Your Property

    Once it is in your hands, its your property. Apple has not right to stop you from using it as you wish.

    See the TechDirt Article: Ownership Or License: The Difference Matters

    We need to put an end to this fiction that the manufacturers of a retail product can somehow retain unreasonable control over a product. Just because they make these ridiculous assertions does not mean that they are enforceable.

     

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      rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

      Re: It's Your Property

      Sure, go ahead. If YOU have the ability to alter the iTunes software on your computer to sync with your Pre, or other MP3 player, go ahead. Apple doesn't care, but they won't help you fix it if you bork it up. Just like Ford won't cover, under warranty, the mess you might make putting in a bigger aftermarket engine. But yeah, you CAN do it.

      But PALM doesn't have the right to unilaterally use another company's software to sell their own products. Not without licensing it.

      Two different concepts. One is personal, which is correct as you say it, the other is commercial, and you are wrong about THAT.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Mike, since you just said "itunes" and not the "itunes store" I assume you are just talking about the software. In that case, you are not trapped into Apple hardware just because you use the itunes software to manage you media library as you can easily move any media out of itunes (unless it is purchased from the itunes store and has DRM in which case Palm users would not be able to access that media on a Palm device regardless of whether Apple was blocking Palm from itunes).

     

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    Michial Thompson, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Why not just license the connection

    Why not just license the other hardware to connect to iTunes. Then Apple makes a profit off the device being sold even if the end user does not connect to iTunes.

    I've kinda wondered this for years. Would make more sense for Apple, and probably solidify the iTunes store as the single vendor for digital music purchases.

     

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    Roger Miller, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    iTunes Integration with Sonos

    I completely agree that it would be good for Apple and good for its customers to allow developers to integrate their products with iTunes. I'm a user of the Sonos home music system, and Sonos now integrates with virtually all of the big content providers -- I have incredible access to an amazing amount of content through my Sonos. Sonos even offers a free app download for an iPhone / iPod app to allow those devices to access my Sonos library (which happens to be the same as my iTunes library). I would LOVE to see an iTunes app sitting on my Sonos controllers -- but Apple won't allow that, for reasons I don't understand.

     

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    Papa Leroy, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    It probably comes down to support.

    It's well known that Apple prefers it's hardware to work with it's software.

    Another example is running alternative OSes on a mac. Case in point- Leopard DVDs come with all the native hardware drivers for XP, Vista, and even Windows 7. Plus Apple makes it easy to install other OSes using Bootcamp, or in an inexpensive VM application. With Bootcamp, you can even non-destructively resize the partition back to the original size when you're done. (I believe they got this task down to 3 or 4 mouseclicks.)

    Remember when the iPhone first came out and Apple wanted customers to activate it within iTunes?

    The problem with providing this level of service and consistent user experience is that it requires testing and QA. Testing and QA is not cheap or free. If anyone desires to piggyback on an Apple application, they should be cognizant of these soft costs as well as ongoing support costs. Because the last thing needed is for someone to come to a Genius Bar with any Apple-branded hardware or software and no troubleshooting processes exist.

    And sure, the iPhone activation process was abysmal, but Apple made things right by offering $100 credits. That's what Apple and AppleCare covers- virtually any Apple-branded application and hardware, including iTunes.

    This backdoor route doesn't seem to take into consideration Apple's existing contractual agreements including AppleCare and other end-user expectations surrounding these issues. Someone has to pay to staff the support lines, and if there are problems and it doesn't work, is Apple going to be stuck giving $100 credits?

    That said, Apple already has a high bar to meet, and it's customers have become expectant of this level of service. I imagine there are other options like Zune, or Rhapsody that could be licensed.

     

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    MeMeMe, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    Off-base

    Mike, you are wrong on this one. Apple doesn't prevent anyone from playing music, as they provide API's for accessing the iTunes library, as RIMM does very successfully. The article you link to is way off-base in their understanding of the issues involved here. No one has a right to hook into another company's software without permission, as Palm is trying to do. The USB Implementer's Forum properly smacked Palm's hand for doing things the wrong way. You owe us all a retraction or correction on this one.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Off-base

      No one has a right to hook into another company's software without permission, as Palm is trying to do.

      Why not? Again, this is a serious question.

      The USB Implementer's Forum properly smacked Palm's hand for doing things the wrong way.

      Indeed, as the article made clear.

      You owe us all a retraction or correction on this one.

      I see nothing incorrect about the post, and I'm not about to retract my opinion, which I still stand by.

       

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        rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:17am

        Re: Re: Off-base

        "No one has a right to hook into another company's software without permission, as Palm is trying to do.

        Why not? Again, this is a serious question."

        Because Palm is a signatory to the USB Forum, which sets standards for industry use of the protocol. It is something they agreed to, and are being called to account for it. That protocol says that only the company the ID identifies is allowed to use that ID.

        Allowing Palm to continue to do this dilutes the authority of the protocol, and thus its usefulness.

        They can EASILY write software that is specific to their own device and its functions, and even innovate using their own software while allowing users to have access to their own music, using Apple's public API.

        Isn't that called innovation? Isn't that what you always hold up as an example? Apple is actually allowing companies the opportunity to innovate using their own creativity and their own devices, while simply using iTunes would do none of that, but simply allow users to do things APPLE'S way.

        Pretty lazy on Palm's part, I'd say.

         

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          nasch (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Off-base

          You answered why they should not spoof the USB ID. You did not answer why no one has a right to hook into another company's software without permission.

           

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            rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

            The answers are the same, in this case. Palm has no "right" to misuse an open standard protocol to hitch a ride on another company's software without permission.

            The social standard until now has been that one does NOT do such things, and I see no changes in the legal arena that would make that change.

            Spoofing the USB ID is the only way Palm can do that without some form of altering Apple's software directly, and THAT would violate at least the DMCA and probably also Apple's copyright.

            What is so hard about Palm using their own resources to just do it right and write their own software? As I noted, that would bring their own innovative resources to bear, from people that designed the hardware, so that they can take full advantage of their own device's features and capabilities.

            Using iTunes locks their customers into using Apple's solution, which may not be completely compatible with all the Pre's features.

            Sorry, but riding on someone else's hard work is just plain lazy, and it does nothing to foster one's own innovation.

            Isn't that what Techdirt is supposed to be about?

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 11:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

              The answers are the same, in this case. Palm has no "right" to misuse an open standard protocol to hitch a ride on another company's software without permission.

              Huh? Why not?

              Sorry, but riding on someone else's hard work is just plain lazy, and it does nothing to foster one's own innovation.

              Isn't that what Techdirt is supposed to be about?


              You must be new here. We are all in favor of innovation. But that means not putting artificial restrictions on others. You keep claiming that Apple has some magical "right" that we think makes no sense and does more harm than good in the long run.

              What good is a "right" if the net impact is negative?

               

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                rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

                "Huh? Why not?"

                Because that protocol says that they don't. The Foundation noted specifically that the ID tags are for the exclusive use of the owning company. Because the software is Apple's, and nobody has a right to use their software to make money without Apple's permission. Or have the rules changed in some way recently?

                "artificial restrictions"?

                Ownership is artificial? Since when? What is so "magical" about the right to use one's own property in a manner consistent with one's business model? Especially a model that's making money hand over fist?

                Palm is using the USB protocol in a manner inconsistent with the protocol's published rules of use, as evidenced by the recent response to Palm's letter published a while back.

                Why the heck is Apple being excoriated here, when they have done nothing wrong but defend their own turf?

                I'm sorry, but you are wrong, and Palm is wrong, and the market will prove it.

                 

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                  Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 6:14pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

                  Because that protocol says that they don't. The Foundation noted specifically that the ID tags are for the exclusive use of the owning company. Because the software is Apple's, and nobody has a right to use their software to make money without Apple's permission. Or have the rules changed in some way recently?

                  You keep focusing on these artificial restrictions as if they have some moral component. Very odd.

                  Ownership is artificial?

                  No, but you do not seem to be able to conceive what ownership means. If I buy (OWN) a Pre and want to connect to iTunes, I should be able to. After all, it's a device that I own and software that I own.

                  Palm is using the USB protocol in a manner inconsistent with the protocol's published rules of use, as evidenced by the recent response to Palm's letter published a while back.

                  Which everyone agrees. No one is disagreeing with that fact. You seem to have put some silly moral thing on top of that. What we're saying is that even though they're using the USB protocol inconsistent from the rules, Apple would be smart to let it go.

                  Why the heck is Apple being excoriated here, when they have done nothing wrong but defend their own turf?

                  Because we think it's a dumb strategic move.

                  I'm sorry, but you are wrong, and Palm is wrong, and the market will prove it.

                  Huh? I am wrong in having an opinion? Yeah, ok. And I'm not sure how the market will prove anything here. Everyone knows the Pre isn't doing very well and will flop. But that's for a whole variety of reasons, having little to do with this silly spat.

                   

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                    rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

                    Oh, you're good!

                    But only good at twisting the facts and what people say.

                    "Because that protocol says that they don't. The Foundation noted specifically that the ID tags are for the exclusive use of the owning company. Because the software is Apple's, and nobody has a right to use their software to make money without Apple's permission. Or have the rules changed in some way recently?"

                    That's a quote you used when you said I was inserting some moral argument. Please, tell me where exactly I made a MORAL argument? It is a matter of legal rights, not morality. Stop twisting my arguments.

                    "No, but you do not seem to be able to conceive what ownership means."

                    Sure, I do, but again, you have twisted the subject. My argument was about APPLE's rights to use their software according to their own business model. If you have the ability to alter the iTunes software on your Mac or PC to allow your Pre to sync with it against Apple's wishes, go ahead, Apple won't stop you, nor will they sue you. They won't provide any technical support if you screw it up, but like you said its yours to alter as you see fit!

                    But PALM doesn't have those rights, because they are doing it, obviously, to sell their own product, which is in competition with Apple's products. THAT is a legal matter, not a moral one.

                    "You seem to have put some silly moral thing on top of that. What we're saying is that even though they're using the USB protocol inconsistent from the rules, Apple would be smart to let it go."

                    Again, what moral argument? The protocol is meant, for TECHNICAL reasons, to allow a company to identify their OWN products when they are plugged into a computer. To allow just any Tom, Dick or Harry to use anybody else's ID means chaos in the marketplace, and for all I know, there could be technical implications as well. There is most likely a reason the protocol was written that way, and I'd guess morality has bupkis to do with it.

                    Why should they allow a competitor to make their product more competitive against Apple's products? Apple has, I am sure, a long term roadmap for where their products are meant to go in the future, and having to babysit devices that belong to third parties so they don't break with each iTunes update is most likely not on it, nor is that roadmap meant to allow third parties to sell their products by piggy-backing on Apple's innovations.

                    Apple has, again, a public API that allows companies like RIM to connect to the iTunes Library by writing their own software that rides upon those companies' own innovations and fully implements their own devices' features. What's wrong with that?

                    "Huh? I am wrong in having an opinion? "

                    Again, thanks for the straw man. Your post about how APPLE is wrong is wrong. You've got the wrong angle to this story, and several of us have come on here to make that point.

                    Yes, the Pre will fail. it will fail because Palm has half-heartedly designed it, manufactured it as a poor quality piece of crap that has a huge return rate, and failed to write their own software to allow THEIR customers, not Apple's, to connect with their music according to Apple's PUBLIC API, like RIM did.

                    So yeah, the market will decide, because there aren't so many folks that have a screwed up angle on this story that'll fail to buy an iPod or iPhone because Apple defended their own product from an unscrupulous competitor - so Apple's sales figures will continue to rise, like they have since 2001.

                     

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                      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 10:03pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

                      Sure, I do, but again, you have twisted the subject. My argument was about APPLE's rights to use their software according to their own business model.

                      Again, not sure why this needs to be explained to you. No one -- not I, not Manjoo -- have argued otherwise. Yes, it's absolutely within Apple's right to block it.

                      We just think it's dumb.

                      Try arguing against what we said, not some made up strawman.

                      If you have the ability to alter the iTunes software on your Mac or PC to allow your Pre to sync with it against Apple's wishes, go ahead, Apple won't stop you, nor will they sue you. They won't provide any technical support if you screw it up, but like you said its yours to alter as you see fit!


                      But that's not what's going on here. Apple is going out of their way to block doing that. That's my point. I think it's dumb for them to go out of their way to do something so anti-consumer.

                      Again, what moral argument?

                      You claimed it was "wrong". Wrong is a moral argument.

                      To allow just any Tom, Dick or Harry to use anybody else's ID means chaos in the marketplace, and for all I know, there could be technical implications as well.

                      Oh yeah, because no open standard ever survives such chaos.

                      You don't know what you're talking about.

                      Why should they allow a competitor to make their product more competitive against Apple's products?

                      *sigh* Try reading. That's what the whole freaking article was about.

                      Your post about how APPLE is wrong is wrong. You've got the wrong angle to this story, and several of us have come on here to make that point.

                      I disagree. I think Apple is making a mistake. You obviously disagree.

                      So yeah, the market will decide, because there aren't so many folks that have a screwed up angle on this story that'll fail to buy an iPod or iPhone because Apple defended their own product from an unscrupulous competitor - so Apple's sales figures will continue to rise, like they have since 2001.

                      Um. It's not like I said Apple would fail because of this.

                      I give up. Believe what you want, but you're arguing against a strawman. Not me.

                       

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                        rwahrens (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:04am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Off-base

                        "But that's not what's going on here. Apple is going out of their way to block doing that. That's my point. I think it's dumb for them to go out of their way to do something so anti-consumer."

                        No, they're blocking PALM'S efforts, not YOURS as an individual.

                        They are two separate things. YOU have the right to alter your property any way you want or have the ability to do.

                        PALM doesn't because they are trying to make money off of their efforts.

                        Two different things altogether. Stop twisting MY arguments.

                        "You don't know what you're talking about."

                        Nice to make an assertion when you didn't answer my argument. Prove that Palm's actions aren't harmful, and try to stay away from generalities that don't add to the argument.

                        As to the protocol, I suspect you don't either.

                        "Um. It's not like I said Apple would fail because of this."

                        No, but you have asserted that they will lose business because of it. I think the market will prove you wrong.

                        Apparently, you think it's "dumb" because you have failed, in this instance, to see where Palm is taking actions that are, in and of themselves, dumb.

                        Because of Palm's actions, their customers now have no sanctioned way to sync their Pres to their iTunes music, because they have no way to prevent Apple from enforcing their own rights. Sorry, but not only was that a dumb move, but it is arguably illegal. I am no fan of the DMCA, but I'd bet an argument could be made that their actions violate at least one provision of it.

                        And in spite of your denigration of morality, business ethics is NOT a bad thing, nor is it necessarily good business practice to do unethical things and expect future business partners to fully trust you to live up to your side of an agreement.

                        Palm's actions WERE wrong, ethically, since you insist on making ethics a part of this argument, and they have been publicly slapped down because of it.

                        You still haven't answered why Palm's actions in ignoring the public API that RIM has so successfully used were GOOD business practice, since their customers have now been left high and dry.

                         

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      The Buzz Saw (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

      Re: Off-base

      I do believe the article already addressed your points: no one is suggesting legal action or integrating without permission. The point is that Apple assumes a position of entitlement while technologies all around operate using openness and connectivity. I think Windows SHOULD cut access to iTunes if Apple is going to refuse access to its platform.

       

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        rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:47am

        Re: Re: Off-base

        "The point is that Apple assumes a position of entitlement..."

        "entitlement"?? When THEY own the rights to iTunes? Why the heck AREN'T they entitled to control it? THEY wrote it, THEY innovated the way in which we interact with our music.

        Again, Apple has provided a PUBLIC API which companies CAN use to connect to the iTunes library - they just need to write their OWN software to do so.

        RIM has done it, and very successfully, too. What makes Palm so special?

         

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    Ragaboo (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Other reasons

    "No one's buying Apple hardware because it syncs with iTunes. They're buying it for many other reasons"

    Indeed. I own an iPod and iPhone, and I HATE iTunes. I'm buying their devices because I like them, not because I can (/have to) use them with iTunes. I don't buy music from iTunes, and I don't organize/listen to my music on it, except for the purpose of syncing my devices. Allowing a Palm Pre to sync with iTunes wouldn't make me give up my iPhone. Making a Palm Pre BETTER than an iPhone would make me give up my iPhone.

     

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    AC, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    my 2 cents

    IMO there are several PMP units on the market that are superior to the iPod. The one I considered most heavily was the new P3 from Samsung, until my wife bought me a Zune. I have to say the only reason I even considered an iPod was because of iTunes. So far, the Zune is great, but the Zune software SUCKS!

    I can definitely understand Apples position. 9 years ago the iPod was king, and everyone else was playing catch up. IMO they have caught up and now the only thing that sets Apple apart is iTunes. I don't like their decision to lock it down, but I can't say I blame them. They have a solid product in iTunes, and if the iPod is their bread and butter, then more power to them. Wasn't enough to suck me in, but it's worked for them so far.

     

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      AC, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

      Re: my 2 cents

      forgot to mention: this does not apply to the iPhone or Palm as I do not have any exposure to either device.

       

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      Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

      Re: my 2 cents

      IMO there are several PMP units on the market that are superior to the iPod.

      No, there aren't. But there are plenty of apple haters who pretend there are.

       

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        JEDIDIAH, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:27pm

        Re: Re: my 2 cents

        > IMO there are several PMP units on the market that are
        > superior to the iPod.
        >
        > No, there aren't. But there are plenty of apple haters who
        > pretend there are.

        A perfect example of the "cult of ipod". A person can't possibly have some good reason for not buying an ipod. Nevermind that it might be a completely objective and trivial to quantify reason.

        No. It's all about "apple hate".

        It's a nice bit of deluded martyrdom.

        Nonsense like this is why a company like Apple shouldn't be handed a media monopoly on a silver platter.

         

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          rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:51am

          Re: Re: Re: my 2 cents

          "Nonsense like this is why a company like Apple shouldn't be handed a media monopoly on a silver platter."

          They weren't HANDED that monopoly, they EARNED it, one iPod at a time, by millions of individual consumers making independent decisions about what product to buy.

          Get over it.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    ipods are identified in itunes as a certain type of usb id. it allows apple to use itunes as an intermediary. apple -> itunes-> ipod.
    because of the usb id itunes and thus apple knows that if it does xyz update to itunes it will affect this specific usb id in a certain way. and because apple knows that this specific usb id belongs to the ipod it can make sure that xyz update doesnt mess up the hardware.
    if you were to have the pre piggyback on that usb id and apple release xyz update that isnt harmful to ipods but bricks the palm pre then it would be bad for pre owners who use itunes and it would be bad for apple.

     

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    Josh K, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 2:00pm

    Missing the point

    So the argument is that apple should stand down because Microsoft didn't hinder iTunes (software that APPLE built) from running on a Windows PC?

    Seems to me like some people are missing the point here, and making some strawmen in the process.

    Palm is free to make software that will connect to a user's already existing iTunes library - simple (as a commenter above noted - just read the XML file).

    Apple is not in the business of allowing unfettered access to its software(iTunes, different from OS X) by other companies in the same way that Microsoft and Atebits and Adobe are.

    Software, and the OS, are very different. Apple is most certainly not under any obligation to let any 3rd party connect to iTunes for syncing purposes - and as a matter of fact, goes against everything they espouse. Namely - owning the experience from top to bottom (including, in this case, the device on which the music is played).

    And the Palm music player is FAR from an iPod - let's be honest. I do hope that Palm makes an app to transfer music from an iTunes library - just like RIM has done. But the onus is on them, not Apple.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 2:35pm

      Re: Missing the point

      Apple is most certainly not under any obligation to let any 3rd party connect to iTunes for syncing purposes

      Ok, let's try this again. Everyone agrees that Apple has no obligation to do this. It's said IN THE POST ITSELF.

      That doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do, however.

       

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        rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:58am

        Re: Re: Missing the point

        "That doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do, however."

        No, it's not. Apple owns the whole product, top to bottom. THEY have innovated, busted their butts writing solid, innovative software integrated with equally innovative hardware to produce a line of products that are designed to work together. It is not "right" for them to dilute that user experience by allowing third rate competitors to piggy back on their success.

        This is imply an issue of a third party wrongfully using an ID tag in the USB protocol for purposes for which it was not designed within that protocol. Again, Apple has allowed third party connectivity to users' iTunes music through a PUBLIC API, allowing third party manufacturers to use their OWN innovative creativity to link that library to their own devices, specifically activating those devices functions and features in ways that iTunes may not be able to do.

        Opening up the use of iTunes LOCKS third party customers into using iTunes.

        Why do you think that is in any way good for third party innovation?

         

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    TriZz (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    I haven't read all of the comments -- but...

    Apple made iPod to work with iTunes. They're designed for each other. That's the way the entire Apple Ecosystem works.

    If they were to allow other devices to sync through iTunes -- here's what they would have to deal with:

    - Calls from non-apple consumers: "I bought bejeweled for my palm pre and it won't sync through iTunes" -- now people hate Apple because the games in the iTunes store aren't for Palm Pre people.

    - "My Zune says it's got 20GB free, but iTunes says it's full".

    Right now...when you call Apple about something iTunes - they know they can help you...because you're dealing with just Apple products.

     

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      nasch (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:00am

      Re: I haven't read all of the comments -- but...

      As opposed to now, when they get "My Palm Pre won't sync with iTunes." The solution to this problem* is the same: "Sorry, we don't support the Palm Pre, you will need to call Palm or your mobile service provider."

      * potential problem - we are just guessing about whether they would get any significant number of support requests from this.

       

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    Freedom, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    Apple isn't a foundation company...

    The problem with Apple is that they aren't a foundation company. They will never license access to the "iTune Universe" because they want full control of the user (cough) experience - period.

    This ultimately will be their down fall. Sure they'll make a ton of money in the short term, but in the end, the most open solution will win if the market forces are allowed to properly act.

    Ironically, Palm is trying to make Apple a foundational type company by linking to it with the Pre. This of course is the worst insult you could ever give Apple. How dare you hook up your device to our system where we might actually make money off it. Damn you Palm - how dare you cement our position in the media world - DAMN YOU.

    I love the typical response from the Apple Fans. Reminds me of the old Caddyshack movie where these darn low-life Pre users are trying to get into the country-club ... Really does just re-enforce what many people think - a large percentage of the Apple users are a bunch of elitist snobs.

    Freedom

     

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    Diesel Mcfadden, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:35pm

    cwf+rtb

    Mike,

    I'm usually with you, but I don't get your reasoning on this one.
    Also, I look at the product not in terms of separate hardware/software, but as a compete system. The "product" IS iTunes/iPod-iPhone/Store/iPod-iPhone compatible external devices.

    iTunes is a way to connect with fans. Free functionality, manage your collection, play your music. It's developed at a cost. Clearly a great cost. No phone company, large retailer, handset manufacturer seems to be willing to invest the many millions of dollars (>$5m

     

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    Diesel Mcfadden, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    less than $50m) to develop their own. They've literally had nearly a decade to get it done. MS makes an attempt and some people prefer their software. It's given away as a way to make a connection with music listeners and buyers for reasons you go over all the time.

    There is no restriction on connecting to the iTunes library. There is no restriction on the purchased songs. Access to the library is open. The management software is closed.

    The iPod/IPhones make iTunes even more useful. It's a reason to buy those devices. They work best with iTunes.

    There are also technical and support reasons. iTunes is also effectively the "screen" for devices like the shuffle, and the extended screen for those and the other iPod devices. The way the Pre is doing the sync, it is literally pretending to be one of those devices (iPod i believe, not iPhone). There are functions in iTunes which can't work with those devices when they're not actually an iPod/iPhone (though Palm could, in theory, dup ALL those functions on the end devices, but what if it requires hardware support like radio station lists, nike+, etc). Would apple be reasponsible for checking first before it changes the protocol for device backup, playlist management, add a new genius-like function, picture library compression and transfer, podcast handling, etc. For developers, sometimes we need a firmware update to match the iTunes update, or vice-versa. For apple, updates to the system as a whole are released together across the product line (as new features) warrant worldwide. I'm sure that's complicated enough within apple. What happens when there are 5m Pre devices? 10m?

    Product leads to hard costs. Say for 5m Pre's, a small fraction of iPhones/ipods sold leads to 2% customer service calls directed at apple at a modest $3/incident. That's 300k in hard costs, + PR exposure. This is all aside from whether it's competitively intelligent.

    Palm has access to the library. So does Sonus, so do other 3rd-parties. Though interfaces that Apple promises to support. They didn't spend the money in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (nor did Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, Sony, Nokia, only MS) to invest in creating the music management software or an ecommerce platform. I assure you Walmart would love to launch an iTunes compatible music player that works exactly like an iPod. A shuffle with half the margin or no margin simply as a giveaway to subsidize in-store or online purchases, which under your logic would be a good thing for Apple, but I suspect would greatly damage the ecosystem.

    Apple is making the most of exactly what you enlighten people with everyday. Work with the reality, not against it. They give away what is free, but sell what is valuable. The shuffle is $12 (or so) of parts in a $50 bag. The $99 memory 16g memory upgrade in an iPhone is about $12 of memory. Would a lot companies love that margin, sure? Would any of them plow their profits into making iTunes or the ITunes store better or into risky ventures in uncharted product territory vs dividends and exec comp? Would there be any margins to maintain at all in an open system? Videogames have been like this for years. Xbox, Wii, subsidized hardware - licensing fees to press games on system.

    To summarize, legal open interfaces are available, hard costs for support, pr/customer experience exposure, exposure to low-margin competitors, technical concerns (who maintains support for features for who and how, long term), rivals had years to make the investment and didn't, and margin damage for the whole ecosystem. Overall, the product IS the system, not pieces of the system. The same as with musicians and music. You've taught me that.

    CwF+rTB. The singles are free. The concerts, and jackets, and commemorative sets aren't. The media mgmt container for your PC/Mac is free. The portable container isn't.

    That's enough rambling for today. thanks for your time and all you've written over the years. Would love to hear your reply. Cheers.

    ps: to your question on the right to hack in to other software. I don't see any problem with people trying to hack into iTunes, and apple doesn't have to spend 5 minutes to make it easy or maintain internal interfaces. I did buy the iPhone BECAUSE it syncs to iTunes, or specifically because it just works and all in the same way, always, which for years with WindowsMusic (worksforsure) devices. It didn't. And to the extent that people don't buy BECAUSE of sync to iTunes. I'd say that by your logic, palm should be able to compete on those same factors as well without iTunes.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

      Re:

      It would be nice to see Mike respond to this comment. I am a long time fan of Tech Dirt. However I disagree on Mikes stance of the use of iTunes.

      Mike asked for a response and this is the best one. Yet no response...

       

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    Amit, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:02pm

    Everyone is saying that Apple makes their products work with each other very nicely, but that is not the case with iTunes and iPods for the PC. Most of my family have iPods and they have saved alot of their songs from their iPods in iTunes, but when I bought my sister a new PC, we tried to sync her iPod with iTunes, guess what happend.... It wanted to wipe the device because it was not the same PC. That is unforgivable, how can a company tell you that you can not sync a device without wiping the device everytime you buy a PC. There are ways to fix that, but you have to jump through hoops. You can not fault PCs for that, its between iTunes and the iPod, BOTH Apple devices.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:49pm

      Re:

      Authorize the new computer with your iTunes account. (The same iTunes account you use on your old computer) - That works very nicely.

       

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    Diesel Mcfadden, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    I'm not even going into the customer strangeness that could occur with devices "pretending" to be an iPod, even with the most minimal thought exercise.

    - "Why can I buy this track on the phone, but not in iTunes?"
    - "Why doesn't "buy rest of album" not work on some of my tracks i bought on the Pre?"
    - "Why don't my pictures transfer right?'
    - "why doesn't iTunes use this [pre- specific function]? It's so stupid"
    - "My TV shows transfer, but not my movie rentals, why?"
    - "iTunes broke again. It's so stupid."

    etc.. I wouldn't deal with the headache now if I were Apple.
    It's all a matter of degree. I'm open to being convinced, but
    with Pre's base so small and all the margin in the devices, i don't have a scenario where the 3-line spreadsheet in margin lost to substitution + erosion + support costs vs incremental gains from goodwill and iTunes media sales makes sense. 1m phones (nothing) = $350m in margin = total ballpark estimated gross profit on App Store so far. And it opens exposure. Walmart moves just 1m itunes compatible shuffles, $35m in margin, poof. Explain how this is petty? It IS the business.

    Here's a plug. Palm could have bundled Doubletwist, which works just fine sync'ing iTunes to non-apple devices (android, blackberry, generic). Also includes sharing features that iTunes doesn't have. Probably even the most logical start to a phone management platform.

     

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    Brooks (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Um, what?

    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.


    Wow. I was just mildly disagreeing as I read the post, until I got to that. That's quite an assertion to make, especially off the cuff and with no evidence to support it. Nobody is buying Apple's hardware because iTunes? No iPhone users chose the phone because they already had a music library in iTunes? No Airport/Airtunes users bought their hardware because of iTunes?

    By that logic, Apple could just shut down iTunes and save a lot of money. Sure, as some earlier wag posted, they *might* be making $10,000 a day from it. But the organizational overhead, technical, and capital requirements are big. If it's not selling hardware, why in the world are they doing it? It is positively not a significant profit center in and of itself.

    Think about this argument for a second. In a nutshell it goes like this:
    - Apple makes the vast majority of its profits from hardware
    - Openness is generally desired by consumers
    - Therefore, if Apple opened iTunes, they would make just as much money because people could buy competing hardware and use it with iTunes

    It was a ridiculous argument then Manjoo made it, and I'm saddened to see Techdirt run with it. Yes, openness is good. In the long run, music systems will almost certainly be open. And yes, it would be philanthropic of Apple to open the ecosystem. It would also hurt profits.

    Argue that Apple has a moral obligation to forego some amount of profit so as to benefit smaller players in the music/phone markets. Argue that 73% market share is a monopoly and the DOJ should get involved. But please, please don't take the position that Apple's choices are driven by anything other than profit maximization.

     

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      Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:45pm

      Re: Um, what?

      And yes, it would be philanthropic of Apple to open the ecosystem. It would also hurt profits.

      Wasting developer resources to sabotage another companies attempt at seamless interoperability during a very public pissing contest over who's hardware is allowed to have the "premium user experience" is absolutely a blow to the reputation of Apple, whom, if I recall correctly, consider their image to be penultimate to their success.

      You think they spend all that money making fun of windows in their ads cause they want to be known as evil overlords?

      Plain and simple.. this was a stupid move on Apples part.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

        Re: Re: Um, what?

        Define: penultimate... answer: next to *last*.

         

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        Brooks (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:15pm

        Re: Re: Um, what?

        So you're arguing for foregoing whatever profits they lose by giving up market share in the phone/iPod hardware market, in the name of improving reputation? And in the same comment you talk about wasting developer resources?

        It's not a terrible argument, unless you're an Apple shareholder. It's true that image is worth something, and in this case maybe they made the wrong decision. I don't think so, because as soon as the Pre syncs with iTunes, every single other phone/music player manufacturer will do so as well, thereby reducing their costs while simultaneously having a more competitive offering.

        But at leas you're talking about intangibles like reputation, rather than the utterly clueless original article (and, sadly, Mike himself), who erroneously claim that there'd be a zero-to-positive financial impact from opening iTunes to competing hardware.

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

      Re: Um, what?

      By that logic, Apple could just shut down iTunes and save a lot of money.

      I didn't say that iTunes wasn't a part of the reason, but it's not the deciding factor.

      Therefore, if Apple opened iTunes, they would make just as much money because people could buy competing hardware and use it with iTunes

      That's not the argument that I made and it's not the argument that Manjoo made, and you know it.

      Please do not misconstrue what we said.

      And yes, it would be philanthropic of Apple to open the ecosystem. It would also hurt profits.

      I disagree. The problem is that you are not thinking dynamically about the market. Think of it this way: right now I will not use iTunes because of this. This makes me less likely to buy an iPhone in the future. There may be others that go in the other direction. Yet, long term, we've seen that those providers who are open tend to benefit greatly (and yes, profit greatly) from it. To argue that they would lose profits by opening up is simply unsupported by the history of the computing world.

      Argue that Apple has a moral obligation to forego some amount of profit so as to benefit smaller players in the music/phone markets.

      I won't because I disagree.

      Argue that 73% market share is a monopoly and the DOJ should get involved.

      I won't because I disagree.

      But please, please don't take the position that Apple's choices are driven by anything other than profit maximization.

      Huh? I'm sure Apple *thinks* its profit maximizing. I'm just saying it's wrong. Doing this has long term negative consequences.

       

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        Brooks (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:39pm

        Re: Re: Um, what?

        Therefore, if Apple opened iTunes, they would make just as much money because people could buy competing hardware and use it with iTunes

        That's not the argument that I made and it's not the argument that Manjoo made, and you know it.

        Please do not misconstrue what we said.


        It wasn't intentional misconstruation. In fact, re-reading Manjoo's post, and the original Techdirt post, and your very response here, it seems to be exactly what you are saying. Maybe I've got it wrong.

        I see your argument as: Apple would make more money if they opened iTunes to competing hardware.

        Is that not the whole argument? I'm totally willing to believe I'm being dense, but please believe I'm not being facetious. If that's not the argument, can you please formulate an "Apple would see higher profits if they opened iTunes because..." assertion?

        By the way, I personally think that there comes a time when it is smart to open iTunes; once hardware margins are lower and iTunes margins are higher, there's a tipping point.

        But right now, with iPhone/iPod margins at around 35% and contributing about $2B of profit per year, versus iTunes with margins of about 15% and profits of about $500m/year, it's a losing play to give up even a few hardware sales.

        Think of it this way: each iPhone sold generates as much profit, just on the hardware and service kickback, as selling about 2500 songs. How many songs do you think the average Pre user is planning to buy?

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

          It wasn't intentional misconstruation. In fact, re-reading Manjoo's post, and the original Techdirt post, and your very response here, it seems to be exactly what you are saying. Maybe I've got it wrong.

          Sorry, I was responding to the three point "argument" you claimed we were making, which I believe totally misconstrued the arguments that we were making.

          My argument was that by opening up, it gave people a greater choice -- and, thus, it would open more people up to using Apple hardware in the longterm. Because I don't think the fact that a Palm Pre can't use iTunes makes someone say "oh, now I have to buy an iPhone instead." But, I know for a fact that Apple's decision not to let the Pre use iTunes means I won't buy an Apple iPhone.

          I guess you're arguing that more people would go the other way. But I don't see it. I think the people who would buy an iPhone will do so regardless of whether or not iTunes works with the Pre.


          But right now, with iPhone/iPod margins at around 35% and contributing about $2B of profit per year, versus iTunes with margins of about 15% and profits of about $500m/year, it's a losing play to give up even a few hardware sales.


          Again, you're assuming that in opening up, it means people who otherwise would have bought iPhones will now rush to buy Pres. I just don't see that.

          Think of it this way: each iPhone sold generates as much profit, just on the hardware and service kickback, as selling about 2500 songs. How many songs do you think the average Pre user is planning to buy?

          Missing the point. That only applies if those Pre buyers would have bought iPhones otherwise. I'm arguing that there aren't many (if any) people out there who say "oh, I would have bought the Pre if iTunes worked with it, but now that it doesn't, I'll buy the iPhone). Instead, I'm saying the opposite is more likely. People turned off by Apple's closed nature means fewer people willing to purchase Apple products.

           

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            Brooks (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

            (To be clear, the three point "argument" was examples of what I see as more legitimate reasons for Apple to open iTunes than the profit argument that, to me, is cart-before-horse reasoning)

            I guess you're arguing that more people would go the other way. But I don't see it. I think the people who would buy an iPhone will do so regardless of whether or not iTunes works with the Pre.

            See, here's where we disagree, for two reasons. First, your argument is all-or-nothing. "The people" don't exist. Some percentage of iPhone buyers would have bought a Pre instead, and in fact some percentage of Pre buyers made the purchase because of Palm's clever "iTunes compatible" marketing. We can haggle over whether those numbers are 1% or 25%, but I absolutely guarantee it is neither 0% nor 100%.

            Missing the point. That only applies if those Pre buyers would have bought iPhones otherwise. I'm arguing that there aren't many (if any) people out there who say "oh, I would have bought the Pre if iTunes worked with it, but now that it doesn't, I'll buy the iPhone).

            If that were the case, and assuming Palm's marketing and research departments aren't complete morons, why did they bother with the whole "iTunes compatible" thing, if it wasn't going to sell any more Pres? Do you really think they weren't hoping to lure prospective iPhone buyers? If iTunes compatibility wasn't a key selling point for the Pre, why did they put up a fight and complain to USB-IF? I can't see how that can be anything buy profit motive.

            Instead, I'm saying the opposite is more likely. People turned off by Apple's closed nature means fewer people willing to purchase Apple products.

            And again, here's where we differ. You're arguing the likelihood of people en masse reacting one way or the other on philosophical grounds, and I'm saying that Apple is image conscious enough, and competent enough with spreadsheets, to have run the numbers and determined that the impact of lost hardware sales was negative enough to make it a losing proposition financially.

            Keep in mind, we're not just talking Pre. The entire industry was and is watching Apple's reaction; accepting the Pre would be a de facto opening of iTunes for *every* other phone and media player. Like I said, that may be a good thing at some point, but I don't think this is that point.

            At the very least, this a very defensible move on Apple's part, not some kind of huge and obvious blunder, as both you and Manjoo painted it.

             

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        bonsai, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

        Re: Re: Um, what?

        "Doing this has long term negative consequences"

        Trying to apease tech bloggers is not the way to make a long term strategy. Apple proved it had a long term strategy when it dropped the floppy and introduced USB and Firewire on the Mac.

        It also showed its ability for a 'long term' by introducing the iPod (which I believe was regarded as a joke by tech bloggers at the time), Apple invested a lot of money and prestige in building up iTunes, which for the first time allowed a legitimate and profitable distribution model to help the record industry out of their embarrassing situation (note that DRM was forced on Apple by the RIAA for a long time).

        That is long term thinking. Apple, again showed their ability to thing long term when they brought out the iPhone, not as a phone but as a platform which, due to their long term planning fitted into the iTunes infrastructure and, with some additional long term thinking behind it, expanded it.

        At the same time Apple have furthered the cause of webkit and web standards, allow anyone access to their technology such as iTunes, use mainly standard file formats such as MP4 and publish their iTunes playlists as xml, and refuse to accept proprietary web technologies such as Flash and Silverlight.

        Palm hired a few ex-Apple employees, came up with a so-so phone, and tried to ride piggy-back on their competitors success to save themselves a few bucks and hope for bloggers sympathy.

        Who is thinking long term here?

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

          Trying to apease tech bloggers is not the way to make a long term strategy.

          Indeed. Who would claim otherwise? I wasn't arguing they should do it because I'm a tech blogger. I was arguing they should do it because it MAKES MORE SENSE.

          It also showed its ability for a 'long term' by introducing the iPod (which I believe was regarded as a joke by tech bloggers at the time)

          Really? I thought it was an amazing device when it came out. Also, there weren't many blogs around at that time, but if you have a source, please cite it.

          That is long term thinking. Apple, again showed their ability to thing long term when they brought out the iPhone, not as a phone but as a platform which, due to their long term planning fitted into the iTunes infrastructure and, with some additional long term thinking behind it, expanded it.

          Indeed. No doubt. That doesn't change that this is a dumb move.

          Who is thinking long term here?

          I'd argue neither of them. I agree that Palm is doing a bad job (very very bad job). But I think Apple is mistaken as well.

           

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            phoenix, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

             

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            phoenix, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 8:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

            Sorry about the double post. Keyboard error.

            You didn't respond to my post. I disagree strongly that 'it makes more sense' from Apples perspective, based on their business model. Here's why:

            " I believe the real bottom line for Apple on this matter is black & white: a Palm Pre that syncs with iTunes is a better offer than one that doesn't. Therefore, a Palm Pre that syncs with iTunes is better equipped to possibly displace an iPhone sale. It's as simple as that."

            If you disagree, I'm interested to know why.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

              " I believe the real bottom line for Apple on this matter is black & white: a Palm Pre that syncs with iTunes is a better offer than one that doesn't. Therefore, a Palm Pre that syncs with iTunes is better equipped to possibly displace an iPhone sale. It's as simple as that."

              Yes, but a company like Apple should know that it can compete on other facets by providing a better product, not by locking Palm out. Honestly, I feel that if Apple is so scared that it can't compete head on with Palm, then Apple isn't concerned with really innovating any more.

               

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                Brooks (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 12:42am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                Mike, you're really struggling with the black-and-whiteisms here.

                The iPhone has a bunch of competitive advantages over the Pre. The Pre has some advantages over the iPhone. Both companies will continue to innovate in some areas and copy others in some areas. Such is business.

                Why would Apple give up *any* of its competitive advantages, or *any* of its profit? Why give Palm (and everyone else) a huge boost just to prove that Apple can compete on "other facets"? It's kind of bizarre reasoning.

                iTunes is a tool to sell iPods and iPhones. There's no moral or financial reason to turn it into some kind of natural resource to be shared among competitors.

                And I'd say that R&D budgets and new products brought to market probably speak more to a company's interest in innovating than whether they choose to hobble themselves in the marketplace.

                 

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                  Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 1:18am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                  Mike, you're really struggling with the black-and-whiteisms here.

                  Not struggling. We disagree. Doesn't mean I'm struggling.

                  Why would Apple give up *any* of its competitive advantages, or *any* of its profit?

                  Same reason why I think it makes more sense for people to give content away for free. It's the exact same reasoning. You give up some immediate revenue potential for much bigger potential down the road.

                  It's kind of bizarre reasoning.

                  Not at all. It's the same reasoning I use all the time.

                  iTunes is a tool to sell iPods and iPhones. There's no moral or financial reason to turn it into some kind of natural resource to be shared among competitors.

                  Ok. I'm not going to go through this again. You disagree. I think you're wrong. I think that there is strong and compelling evidence that being a more open platform leads to much greater downstream opportunities.

                  It's the difference between positive innovation and negative innovation. Negative is blocking others. Positive is adding value. Which is Apple doing with this move?

                   

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                    Brooks (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 8:34am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                    Not struggling. We disagree. Doesn't mean I'm struggling.

                    You took me out of context. I said you were struggling with black-and-whiteisms, which you most assuredly are. Re-read your posts -- they're all about what "people" in general will do with great homogeneity. This whole issue is about 2% here, 5% there, against 20% differences in margins on millions to billions of products (including media sales). The actual "better choice", from a financial perspective, likely hinges on whether iPod market share drops from 74% to 60% or from 74% to 50% in an open-iTunes world.

                    And the whole linkage between Apple's protection of a closed ecosystem to Apple being "scared" to Apple "not being interested in innovating" is classic extremist argument. You went from a company looking to prevent incremental market share erosion to a huge personality judgment which is belied by the R&D numbers in June's 10Q. I'm sorry, but that is clearly a case of struggling with nuance.

                    It's the difference between positive innovation and negative innovation. Negative is blocking others. Positive is adding value. Which is Apple doing with this move?

                    See, here's the fundamental disagreement. I don't buy that (though the phrasing is good). By that reasoning, every market situation calls for maximal aid to ones' competitors, and platforms should give their originators no unique benefit.

                    While I agree that's when open platforms tend to evolve to, that's a result of competitive pressure, not a strategic goal. It's leaving the real of real economics (where ideas of scarce and non-scarce good live) and heading into more of an abstract political view that is contrary to real economics -- as evidenced by the way companies work and platforms evolve from closed to open.

                    There's more evidence for my position today, by the way. On the 28th, Palm shipped a Pre update that did not re-enable iTunes sync. Today, two days later, the price dropped to $79. At launch it was $249.

                    Now, there are a lot of factors at work, but I think there's a strong argument to be made that iTunes compatibility (which was present and promised at launch) represented a good chunk of that $170 change in (presumably) equilibrium price. Hey, look, Apple's closed platform is good for consumers; it drives prices down! :)

                    I'm fine disagreeing, and you're a bright guy and interesting to read, but please please please take three things away from this conversation:

                    1) If you're going to assert that a move is bad from a profit perspective, please at least use *some* numbers rather than unsupported throwaway lines like "nobody buys iPods because of iTunes." To anyone who follows this business, that's a howler.

                    2) If you're going to rely on the generality that open platforms lead to more opportunities, at least acknowledge the costs associated with loss of market share in complimentary items, and that the vague promise of greater profits in the future is hard to accept in lieu of clear profits today.

                    3) When reposting someone else's material for a hearty "what he said!", try not to be swayed by philosophical agreement, and think for a moment about whether the writer supported their argument. Even if you agree, there's a lot of value in saying "well, he makes a huge assumption about financial impact, but even in the absence of numbers I think he's probably right."

                     

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                      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 11:20am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                      See, here's the fundamental disagreement. I don't buy that (though the phrasing is good). By that reasoning, every market situation calls for maximal aid to ones' competitors, and platforms should give their originators no unique benefit.

                      Um. No, not at all. Please don't misread what I wrote so ridiculously. I'm not saying Apple should go out of their way to help Palm. I'm saying they shouldn't go out of their way to block Palm. How hard is it to understand the difference.

                      If you're going to rely on the generality that open platforms lead to more opportunities, at least acknowledge the costs associated with loss of market share in complimentary items, and that the vague promise of greater profits in the future is hard to accept in lieu of clear profits today.

                      Um. But that's an opinion I don't share. It's not a "vague future profits" vs. "clear profits today." I don't know why you keep insisting that's the case. You clearly believe it, but I think you're wrong. I'm not sure why you keep insisting that my opinion can't possibly be right.

                      When reposting someone else's material for a hearty "what he said!", try not to be swayed by philosophical agreement, and think for a moment about whether the writer supported their argument. Even if you agree, there's a lot of value in saying "well, he makes a huge assumption about financial impact, but even in the absence of numbers I think he's probably right."

                      I think he did support his argument pretty well based on my own knowledge of markets and economics.

                       

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                        Brooks (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                        . I'm saying they shouldn't go out of their way to block Palm. How hard is it to understand the difference.

                        It's a strategic choice either way. The technical implementation is so trivial that it should have zero impact on the analysis. Pretend for a second that Apple had to flip some switch (cost: $1) to enable Palm; would you then argue against doing, because that would switch the case from "not blocking Palm" to "actively helping Palm"?

                        Um. But that's an opinion I don't share. It's not a "vague future profits" vs. "clear profits today." I don't know why you keep insisting that's the case. You clearly believe it, but I think you're wrong. I'm not sure why you keep insisting that my opinion can't possibly be right.

                        For the same reason I'd insist your opinion about math couldn't possibly be right, for some assertions about math :). I can show you a spreadsheet with reasonable estimates of the costs of opening the platform; can you do the same with the benefits?

                        I agree philosophically about openness; my real complaint here is the lack of a concrete bridge from the handwaving economics to the specific assertion that Apple would make more money being open. Are you arguing that they'd sell *more* hardware? That the increase in media sales would offset any losses in hardware? That entirely new revenue streams would appear (and if so, what)? Or are you just pretty sure it would work out and that Apple should risk literally billions in profits based on a (lucid, but controversial) "understanding of economics and markets"?

                        You're asking Apple to take the chance of a multibillion dollar hit. Even if you disagree with me on scale, we're at least talking hundreds of millions of dollars (a 2% reduction in iPhone/iPod sales across the next 5 years works out to an NPV of $200m, assuming zero market growth and a ridiculously high 15% WACC). Nobody makes decisions like that without real models.

                        So where's your model of the benefits? I'm fine with the economic opinion, but if you're arguing actual companies and financials, I think you have to flesh out your argument more.

                        To be clear, my original complaint was with the offhand way that both Manjoo and you presented this as a clear and obvious mistake on Apple's part. Now I'm just irked that you want to talk about markets and economics to support an argument about specific line items on an income statement ;)

                         

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                Griff (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 1:52am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                Mike, you say

                Honestly, I feel that if Apple is so scared that it can't compete head on with Palm, then Apple isn't concerned with really innovating any more.

                I think "competing head on" is what Palm would be doing if they gopt off their butts and developed their own (better) musinc managemwent software.
                At the moment Palm are competing head on in much the same way as Lily Allen with her mix tapes - try and take the work of someone else and profit without adding theior own value.

                As a poster said earlier, Apple are doing what you espouse. Making up for the low value of the content sale by adding value.

                I think for you to disagree that a syncable Pre might swing a buyer away from an iPod, while asserting that a non Syncable Pre makes you less likely to buy an apple iPod at some future time (out of pique, presumably) is a case of you stretching reason to fit your principle. One outcome is economically obvious and immediate while the other is some vague assertion about behaviour of a subset of people who think how you do.

                Are you claiming that you WANT to use iTunes but your prospective pre purchase won't let you ? If so, how will your future refusal to buy any apple product get you any nearer the goal of wanting to use iTunes ?

                (For the record, I'm no fan of Apple. I have about 10 Palm devices in my house and nothing from Apple. But they do what they do [ie make money] well. Better than Palm. I just think Palm need to show a bit more leadership and a bit less "me too" in this developing music market. A killer app for buying DRM free MP3's from Amazon, for example. Perhaps a completely cloud based version of something like iTunes software that allows me to get to a mirror of my whole collection via wifi in Starbucks, for example. This would use very little per user cloud storage as most of the content would already be stored by the vendor anyway.
                And if the connection was too slow for downloading, I'd be able to stream from my collection at any time on my whichever of my devices. Like a great big Sonos in the sky. And as this cloud app is a loss leader to help me compete with Apple I would NOT initially open it up to iPod users.)

                 

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                  Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 11:13am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                  At the moment Palm are competing head on in much the same way as Lily Allen with her mix tapes - try and take the work of someone else and profit without adding theior own value.

                  Not sure if you missed my point on Lily Allen, but I think her offering up mixtapes was a great idea. I'm all for artists who do mixtapes.

                  My complaint was that she was doing that at the same time as insisting that it was killing music.

                  As a poster said earlier, Apple are doing what you espouse. Making up for the low value of the content sale by adding value.


                  No. Not at all. I never espouse artificial limitations.

                  Are you claiming that you WANT to use iTunes but your prospective pre purchase won't let you ? If so, how will your future refusal to buy any apple product get you any nearer the goal of wanting to use iTunes ?

                  No, I'm not buying a Pre. I'm just saying that I don't trust Apple because of this, and don't want to get locked into any Apple products.

                   

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                    rwahrens (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:08am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Um, what?

                    "I'm just saying that I don't trust Apple because of this, and don't want to get locked into any Apple products."

                    And yet, you support Palm's efforts at locking their customers into using iTunes!

                    No wonder you don't want to buy a Pre!

                     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    instead of endlessly complaining that apple doesnt allow your favorite hardware to connect to itunes, try this idea out....

    ....DONT USE ITUNES!!


    I have an iPod for the simple and sole reason that its the only player that had had all the requirements for me and had the added bonus of the fact that it actually worked not only as it was supposed to, but how i wanted it to as well.

    iTunes on the other hand does not. its buggy, bloated, ugly and less than useless to me. so i just use something else.

    believe it or not, this is something that a bit of education and a free market will decide.
    if no one uses itunes even in conjunction with apples hardware products, then they will in turn either do something to fix it, or others will make something that works just as well or better and people will use that.

    please keep in mind, this relates ONLY to hardware connecting to iTunes and has no bearing on iTunes as a purchasing method for your music.

     

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    Phoenix, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:46pm

    It *IS* about the hardware (and the software)!

    Yes, a Palm Pre masquerading as an Apple product creates unpredictable risk for the effectiveness of the iTunes ecosystem and the Apple brand image. Not a good business strategy. Let Palm develop and support their own syncing application, as others have suggested.

    However, I believe the real bottom line for Apple on this matter is black & white: a Palm Pre that syncs with iTunes is a better offer than one that doesn't. Therefore, a Palm Pre that syncs with iTunes is better equipped to possibly displace an iPhone sale. It's as simple as that.

     

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    zenasprime, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    I don't understand the problem

    Most people I know are complaining that they don't like iTunes, but they are locked into using it for their iPods. The problem, from what I have heard, is that you are locked into using iTunes to sync your iPod, not the other way around. Why is it so important that Palm Pre users use iTunes and not some other software and why is it Apple's responsibility to make sure their software, which is free by the way, is interoperable with other hardware?

     

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      Misanthropist (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:10pm

      Re: I don't understand the problem

      Some people really like itunes.. some people really hate itunes.

      Some people have ipods and got used to using itunes, and want to continue using itunes to manage their media library, even tho they have purchased additional devices capable of playing back media.

      I don't know who these people are. I hate itunes. I love my ipod. I've tried other software to manage my library.. they sucked at managing my ipod. I have other devices that I could put music on.. (my cellphone is actually branded "walkman") but thats absurd, I never will. The ipod does that so much better, and I would never want to drain my phone battery listening to music.

      So I'm just stuck using itunes. /sigh

       

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        zenasprime, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 6:54pm

        Re: Re: I don't understand the problem

        I actually like iTunes better then all of the alternative's I've tried over the years. I have Songbird on my media computer and while I like it, I feel that it's lacking in a lot of ways that iTunes just seems to get right.... for me. That's not to say that I don't identify with those who don't find iTunes as an adequate solution for their individual needs. Now, there is software out there that will try and manage your iTunes library, like Songbird, which lets user who, like yourself, want to use third party software to manage their library, but they are still required to use iTunes to sync their iPod/iPhone. I'm not sure I agree with this policy but that's ultimately Apple's call. It's up to me if I still want to use an Apple product knowing that this is their policy and if I don't like it I can "vote with my dollar". I'm still at a loss, however, as to why it's being made out that Apple is somehow pulling one over on users because if this. I don't always agree with what Apple does but I still enjoy using their products in general (though don't get me started on their horrible implementation of DNS on their server product.

         

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    identicon
    hmm, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 12:15am

    What I've never understood is how Apple is allowed to block OSX etc from installing on non-apple hardware...but if Microsoft designed windows 7 to fail on apple hardware, there'd be an outcry, an anti-trust investigation etc...

    Why does Apple seem to have more rights than Microsoft?

    And don't say its because Microsoft has a monopoly...apple has just as much a monopoly on itunes...its own hardware..OSX etc etc etc

     

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      rwahrens (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:41am

      Re:

      "What I've never understood is how Apple is allowed to block OSX etc from installing on non-apple hardware..."

      Because it is part of a comprehensive product, and their software is designed to sell their primary product - hardware. What you want is like using software from the onboard computer in a BMW in your Ford. Why the heck should BMW be amenable to actually altering their software to make it work on another manufacturer's product?

      "And don't say its because Microsoft has a monopoly...apple has just as much a monopoly on itunes...its own hardware..OSX etc etc etc"

      sorry, you don't get to set the conditions, here. It IS because Microsoft is a monopoly - in the Operating system market.

      iTunes is part of Apple's offering in the MP3 player market - an identifiably DIFFERENT market! In the desktop OS market, it has a market share in the single digits, so it gets to play by different rules than the monopolist.

       

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    identicon
    s, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 5:34am

    other mp3 devices using itunes

    it is a good idea but let someone to load a cd to install that they have in there collection and dvd's to load there movies and have fetures that can't be used by other mp3 players

     

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    Grand Master Useless, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    The only thing keeping me with an iPod...

    I completely agree, in regards to the closed nature of the iPod...I'd *much* rather have one of those slick Archos Media Tablets or, heck, even be able to pull music off my Android phone while in the car...

    ...which is, for me, the one area that NO OTHER PMP competes.

    I don't use iTunes.
    I don't have a Mac.
    I don't have any desire to be trapped by Apple in being forced to use their software to use their hardware.

    If you can find me a PMP that has the library functionality of an iPod when used with a car stereo...using a native-type interface. I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

    Even Microsoft has a more "open" attitude regarding their music players, as I understand it you can mount it via USB and just DUMP files on there. Sound much easier than my iPod.

    Except I can't charge and access the files in my car. unless I happen to have a very specific model of Ford with their Sync system, correct?

    Stupid.grumble..

     

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    Eventide, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 1:20am

    It maybe a legal decision.

    I am new here, so i'd like to express my thanks first. I really enjoy this website.

    My theory about Apples behaviour with iTunes is that it is not a question of competition or selling the iPod with iTunes or anything like that. Maybe even Apple would like to open iTunes for other companies, but there is a huge problem.

    I think they do not want iTunes to become a platform for all PMPs meaning a market. Apple has about +70% marketshare in the US. If they open iTunes for everyone they would dominate a market, and this would open the ground for rediculous lawsuits and it would bring great responsibility for Apple.
    Instead on focusing on creating new versions of their own hardware they would have to make sure, that other companies will not have a hard time with the connection into iTunes.
    It would slow down the development of Apples products and Apple would have to take care about a lot of things which they don't have to a.t.m.
    And once opened for all I do not think there would be a way back for Apple, they probably were forced to iTunes open for other companies for a very long time.

     

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    jess, Mar 20th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

    apple itunes block

    i completely agree with this. the one thing it does not mention, is money. i've spent a lot of money on itunes and if i pay $1.29 for a copy of a song, then it should legally be my copy, to put on whatever device i'de like. i have a shuffle, as a gift. i myself will never pay for an apple device, esp. now that they have become so greedy. i wish everyone would spend at least a month and not purchase anything like this. hhm, maybe show these companies, who really has the power, its not them, they'de be nothing without us, nothing. and this is our repayment.

     

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    jess, Mar 20th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    my own comment!

    oh and i guess that most americans dont care about hitting apple because its not our children that they're using to build their high dollar merchandise. and they really dont outsource many american companies either. but they dont mind making their money here.

     

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    identicon
    Spade, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 9:16am

    I'm not about to retract my opinion, which I still stand by.

    and by "stand by", I mean that I'll never again raise the question of third parties connecting to iTunes on this site. But I still stand by my opinion. Silently.

     

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