Slate hack: Apple’s hypocritical by blocking beleaguered Palm’s Pre from iTunes

“In May, Palm announced that its new phone, the Pre, would do something that only a single other smartphone in the world could do—”synchronize seamlessly with iTunes,'” Farhad Manjoo writes for Slate.

MacDailyNews Take: Wrong already, Farhad. RIM’s BlackBerry Media Sync is a prime example of the proper, ethical way to sync non-Apple devices with iTunes (and Windows Media Player) music files. Beleaguered Palm, likely because they’ve been running on fumes for years, along with being led by obviously ethically-challenged people, tried to take the cheap, unethical way out.

Manjoo continues, “Palm—whose CEO, Jon Rubinstein, is a former Apple executive who’d been instrumental in creating the iPod—understood that it couldn’t beat iTunes. So why not join it?”

MacDailyNews Take: Again, to be crystal clear: Then join it ethically, like RIM, not unethically, like the Apple castoffs at Palm. And Tony Fadell, working closely with Steve Jobs, created the iPod, not Jon “I wannabe Steve Jobs but I never will be” Rubinstein.

Manjoo continues, “There’s a simple reason why not—Apple doesn’t allow third-party devices to sync with its software. But Palm found the restriction easy to circumvent: Every device that connects to a computer’s USB port identifies itself with a specific vendor and product code. Palm simply copied Apple’s USB codes. It’s the digital equivalent of telling a bouncer that you’re McLovin.”

MacDailyNews Take: As shown by the RIM example, Apple most certainly does allow third-party devices to sync with iTunes, but it’s nice to see that Manjoo agrees that what Palm did is as illegal as creating and trying to pass off fake identification.

Manjoo continues, “Apple, of course, doesn’t approve of this. And so began a tedious cat-and-mouse game. Every time Apple releases a new version of iTunes, it disables the Palm Pre’s syncing capability; the syncing comes back every time Palm updates its software. (As of Apple’s release of iTunes 9, the Pre cannot sync with Apple’s software; Palm says it’s working on restoring access.)

MacDailyNews Take: It wasn’t at all tedious to us, in fact, it was rather fun; of course, we were backing the cat. News flash, Farhad: Game over: Beleaguered Palm updates Pre’s webOS, but iTunes sync remains ‘off’ – September 29, 2009

Manjoo continues, “In July, Palm complained about Apple’s iTunes block to the USB Implementers Forum, the trade group that manages the USB specification. But the move backfired. In a letter sent last week, the USB-IF exonerated Apple and told Palm that it was in the wrong for copying Apple’s USB codes. The USB-IF didn’t say whether it would try to enforce its ruling; Palm says that it’s reviewing the decision. 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.”

MacDailyNews Take: Manjoo is clearly either being directed by the perpetually-struggling Slate to engage in a bit of hit-whoring or he’s an imbecile. Take your pick.

Manjoo continues, “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.”

MacDailyNews Take: Once again, RIM’s BlackBerry Media Sync is a prime example of the proper, ethical way to sync non-Apple devices with iTunes music files. Beleaguered Palm tried and failed to take the cheap, unethical way out.

Manjoo continues, “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.”

MacDailyNews Take: There already is a “legal pathway” – see multiple references to RIM’s method above.

Manjoo continues, “Palm had to resort to hacking only because Apple closed down any legal paths for entry—making illegal the very same sort of compatibility that Apple itself has long depended on. Hacking was Palm’s only option.”

MacDailyNews Take: Stephen Hawking, you’ve got more work to do, for Farhad Manjoo is clearly denser than a black hole.

Manjoo continues, “Apple often gets away with behavior we’d never sanction from other companies. If Microsoft began preventing rivals’ devices from connecting with Windows, the tech industry would go ape.”

Full article, from which we’ve already excerpted everything of interest, so please Think Before You Click™, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple prevents no company from developing their own software to properly, ethically, and legally connect to iTunes. Contact Farhad Manjoo at and Slate editors at .


  1. “If Microsoft began preventing rivals’ devices from connecting with Windows, the tech industry would go ape.”

    Oh you mean like Zune and Microsoft PlaysForSure. How did that work out for everyone?

    Wikipedia, your thoughts?

    Content providers which formerly offered PlaysForSure
    – AOL MusicNow (closed)
    – Musicmatch Jukebox (closed)
    – Yahoo! Music Unlimited (closed)
    – Spiralfrog (closed)
    – MTV URGE (closed)
    – MSN Music (fraked itself)
    – Musicmatch Jukebox (closed)
    – Wal-Mart Music Downloads (switched to MP3)
    – Ruckus Network (closed)
    – PassAlong Networks (closed)
    – Rhapsody (switched to MP3)
    – iMesh (switched to MP3)
    – BearShare (switched to MP3)

  2. This says it all. Can the guy not even read!

    “If Microsoft began preventing rivals’ devices from connecting with Windows, the tech industry would go ape.”

    That’s right, and if Apple did the same thing with OSX, the tech industry would go ape as well. I have noticed a concerted effort to make Apple look like a closed system over the past few months and it is troubling.


    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.

  4. What. A. Retard.

    Clearly, this idiot has no idea that Blackberries can sync with iTunes! It’s the only explanation for what he wrote.

    How the hell do people this oblivious keep their jobs? I often wonder what the minimum standard is to be a magazine journalist these days. Don’t sh*t your pants in the office?


  5. @Deus Ex Technica

    EXCELLENT….THAT is a far better take than MDN’s…which I usually enjoy and not that theirs is wrong…your clear, focused and
    definitive take should be posted on the wall at ZDNet, CNET, and PC Magazine.

  6. “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.”

    So, the spammers who send out emails that look like they came from your bank or PayPal are also in the right?

  7. Here is my letter to Slate:

    ear Sirs:

    My attention has been drawn to Farhad Manjoo’s assertions that Apple did wrong by failing to cooperate or facilitate Palm’s attempts to hack into iTunes.

    The whole concept is silly, and there are numerous misstatements in the article; but the suggestion that Microsoft does not block competitors from accessing its technology is so absurd as to suggest Mr. Manjoo is from another universe entirely.

    For example: Microsoft had to be ordered by the EU to open its standards in Word so that others could write compatible files; Microsoft makes each new version of Office write files that are incompatible with previous versions and with other word processors; DirectX, WMA, etc., etc., etc., are all initiatives that MS has taken to keep every single aspect of computing proprietary to Microsoft.

    While Mr. Manjoo does string words together smoothly, a journalist needs to make sure the words also convey some reasonably truthful and meaningful content. In this instance Mr. Manjoo has failed utterly. By publishing such absurdity, Slate has also failed.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.