Tag Archives: Apple

Palm Plays Dirty, Whines to Ref When Checked

Every so often, it seems that someone needs to be reminded that it is not illegal to have a monopoly, only to use the power of that monopoly to impede competition.  We all want to see the little guy succeed and compete effectively, forcing its competitors to react and improve.  The underdog, however, does not get a free pass to overstep its legal bounds, simply because they’re up against harsh odds.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about Palm’s hack that allows them to sync with iTunes.  Apple released an update to iTunes, which closed that hacking method.  Now, Palm has updated the Prē to use a lower-level hack, restoring iTunes sync capability.  Apple will soon respond in kind, and they have every legal right to do so.  They would, in fact, be derelict in their duties if they did not.

At the same time, Palm has built upon consumers’ misplaced sympathies by complaining to the USB governing body that Apple is using its Vendor ID unfairly to limit access to iTunes. A lot of people like to scream that these actions are like “the ‘Man’ keeping Palm down,” which is an unfair assessment; Apple has done nothing to keep Palm from reaping the rewards of their own efforts, and Apple is certainly not obligated to share any of their own success with Palm.

Palm has created an iPhone alternative, the first new smartphone to really compete on level ground with the iPhone. Apple has done nothing to prevent this, nor has it made any specious claims to deter people from buying the Prē.  And now, having done that so successfully, Palm is equally free to create their own media player and sync software solution which integrates seamlessly with the Prē.  Apple would not want to stand in their way, and they are legally prevented from doing so.

Palm is NOT, however, free to force Apple to allow their device to sync with iTunes.  They are violating several licenses and agreements with their actions, and they haven’t a legal leg on which to stand.  A few points:

  • Apple owns their USB vendor ID. It is prohibited for Palm to use Apple’s ID at all, let alone in the fraudulent way in which it is using it.
  • Apple owns iTunes. They are free to set the license for its use, and to restrict its connectivity to a selected set of devices manufactured by themselves and by their partners.
  • Customers are free to vote with their dollars. If Apple’s restrictions impact the consumer negatively, buyers will take their business elsewhere.

And the final nail in the coffin of Palm’s legal chances:  Apple is probably open to the idea of the Prē syncing with iTunes! Oh, but make no mistake… Palm would to have to pay (whether monetarily, through a partnership, or with some other concession) a fair price for the privilege of integrating with iTunes and benefiting from Apple’s hard work.

There is no legal quandary here.  If Palm wants into iTunes, they need to pay up.  Otherwise, they need to STFD and STFU before something bad happens to them.

Apple closes a window, opens a door

I recently learned of Apple’s decision to make Macworld 2009 its last.  While this news is somewhat sad to hear, it’s hardly unexpected; Apple has been steadily eliminating many similar events, including Apple Expo, Macworld Tokyo, and Macworld Boston, for several years now.  And while this turn of events may be difficult for many Mac fanatics to swallow (perhaps even harder for the third parties who convene there to sell Mac-focused goods and services) it’s really not bad news, and the move actually makes a lot of sense on Apple’s part.

For a decade, Apple has been throwing this party: a Mac-specific event designed to rally the troops, getting the faithful together and spreading the word about what they’re putting on store shelves next.  It is a truly grand event, and in years past, it’s been well worth the massive expenditure required to make it happen.  But things are different now.  Apple no longer needs to hold their own party to get people to pay attention; what tech-savvy individual doesn’t know when a new iPod comes out these days?  Or when Mac OS X gets a major update?  Apple has earned the coverage in major publications — and even in the mainstream media — necessary to keep the masses informed about the big announcements.

But not every Apple product is Mac OS X, iPhone, or iPod.  What about updates to their computers, or other hardware such as displays, Apple TV, or Airport?  How will those less-prominent products gain exposure?  The answer is simple: they will do it at the same conventions, electronics shows, and expositions where every other manufacturer does it.  After years of (undeserved) obscurity, Apple has finally earned the right to sit at the same table as the likes of HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Dell; so it only stands to reason that they be a major player at the same established events to show off their new offerings.

By abandoning their solo show and attending the big industry events, Apple doesn’t have to shoulder the expense of the logistics associated with a major convention (building, staff, food, networking, etc) and they can focus their resources solely on their own booth, which will be much more grand as a result.  The best part is that Apples presence at the show, and the shiny new products announced therein, can be directly compared and contrasted with those of their competitors’.  The Apple advantage will become all the more clear to the consumer, and Apple will need to be all the more focused on maintaining their lead in the marketplace.

On a final note, if you still want to attend an Apple-cultural event, I would recommend you think about downloading the free Xcode developer tools, learning about Cocoa, and writing your own Mac OS X or iPhone application.  Then, attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, where you can experience the same familial atmosphere which can only be created by a bunch of extreme Mac-heads learning about new Apple technologies.  While MacWorld’s time has passed, I can’t imagine that WWDC (which has enjoyed explosive growth over the past two years) would be going away any time soon.

Open Is Good, Usable Is Better…

… even in the Mobile space.

Unless you’re living in a Faraday cage, you’ve seen the Internet hype around Android, Google’s mobile platform. The iPhone-alternative seekers and FOSS evangelists are engaging in a collective circle-jerk around it, because it has the potential to “beat the iPhone” and bring open-source to mobile. I think it will definitely have a profound impact on mobile devices, and there’s no disputing that an open mobile platform is exciting, especially one backed by Google. But guys, I’m not ready to circle up just yet. My apologies.

Yes, Open Source is definitely awesome, but its potential for “beating the iPhone” is limited. If there’s one way that Apple humiliates everyone else, it’s with their ability to make something universally usable. Personally, I love all that Android’s open nature has to offer the hardcore power users and developers. Open-source is great, offering infinite freedom for niche geeks like you and I, but that doesn’t translate to something that’s going to make it in the mainstream market.

Continue reading