Apple’s iTunes 9 kills syncing with Palm Pre, again

As noted over at precentral, Apple’s latest update to iTunes once again kills the ability to sync an iTunes library with a Palm Pre.  I mentioned this last time when Apple did the functional equivalent with iTunes 8.2.1.  Unless Apple intends to force a data-negotiation phase with iPods (which would require mandatory firmware updates to every existing USB iPod), Palm will be able to continue working around such annoyances.  In this case, Palm will likely spoof the manufacturer ID (in addition to vendor-ID spoofing, which they’re already doing).  But at some point, this is going to have to stop.  Apple will have to decide if they really are going to force a firmware update on all existing iPods, and Palm will have to decide if they want to keep chasing Apple’s annoying counter-moves.  (It may be a moot point anyway — Apple may run out of options completely and may have to eventually give in, or use lawyers instead of technological means.  It’s not clear if the hardware on old iPods can be made to facilitate an authentication handshake — if the USB microcontroller isn’t software-programmable and is just a dumb data transport, then Apple is out of luck there).

In the end, customers lose.  Palm’s customers lose for obvious reasons, but Apple’s losing customers as well.  I’ll never understand the mentality behind turning your back on people who want to use your portal and presumably can & will buy music.  (Apple made the point pretty clear yesterday that people who use iTunes overwhelmingly buy stuff).  The other problem here is that Apple is already under investigation by the FTC regarding potential anti-trust issues (stemming from the App-store rejection of the Google Voice app).  Do they really want to take on another anti-competitive, anti-consumer cause?  I get that Apple wants to “control it all”, and in many ways, that’s worked for them over the years.  But if they continue being so rigid with it, they’re going to ultimately wind up losing control (under Federal regulations), in addition to losing the customers they’re literally booting out of their store (iTunes).

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