John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Palm Ignores USB Group's Warning, Restores iTunes Sync

jobswpredieOh, it’s really on now. This morning Palm announced webOS 1.2.1 another point release to its new webOS platform that restores media synchronization with the latest version, 9.0.1, of iTunes. Moreover, the company has gone the extra step of extending that synchronization feature to photos. This despite Apple’s repeated efforts to disable that feature and warnings from the USB Implementers Forum that Palm is potentially violating its USB-IF Membership Agreement by disguising its Pre handset as an Apple device.

From Palm’s webOS 1.2.1 version information:

Feature changes to existing applications

  • Resolves an issue preventing media sync from working with latest version of iTunes (9.0.1).
  • Media sync now synchronizes photo albums, maintaining the album structure in the Photos app.

How did Palm (PALM) do this? By once again making the Pre masquerade as an Apple (AAPL) device. Plug your Pre into your computer and set it to Media Sync and it identifies itself like this:

USB Product ID: 0x1209
USB Vendor ID: 0x05ac (Apple, Inc)
Manufacturer: Apple Inc.

A brazen move, considering the USB-IF specifically warned Palm against doing exactly this in its Sept. 22 letter to the company:

I attach for your information the USB-IF’s adopted and published policy regarding Vendor Identification Numbers (VIDs). Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage. Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy.

Please clarify Palm’s intent and respond to this potential violation within seven days.

Now that Palm has “clarified its intent” with regard to this potential violation, I wonder how Apple and the USB-IF will respond. Do they have any recourse? The USB-IF could revoke Palm’s membership in the group, but what would that accomplish? Very little, as far as I can tell. Certainly, it wouldn’t prevent Palm from continuing to update its devices to synch with iTunes.

Reached for comment, Palm declined to offer one. Apple and the USB-IF have not yet responded to my requests. If and when they do, I’ll update here.

UPDATE: Looks like this cat and mouse game is going to go another round. This just in from Apple: “As we’ve said before, newer versions of Apple’s iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with unsupported digital media players.” Presumably, iTunes 9.0.2 will disable Palm’s latest fix.

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