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Palm responds to Apple iTunes threat

Jun 18, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Palm issued an “unfazed” response to Apple's veiled threat to block future versions of iTunes from access by the Palm Pre, according to reports. Meanwhile, Pre hacks are already popping up, including a Nintendo emulator and a Virtual Network Computing (VNC) remote desktop control app.

Shortly before the Palm Pre shipped for the Sprint 3G network almost two weeks ago, Palm tipped a hithero undescribed feature of the Linux-based smartphone: the ability to sync seamlessly with Apple's proprietary iTunes music download site. Now Apple has done exactly what analysts quoted in an eWEEK story on the feature predicted it would: threaten to make future versions of iTunes available only on Apple-built devices.

Without referencing any company or product names, Apple posted a warning on its support website Wednesday that reads, “Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software. However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players and, because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple's iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players.”

eWEEK goes on to quote analysts who speculate that Apple will quickly upgrade iTunes to lock out Pre users. The story noted that the company rapidly mobilized in September 2007 to issue an iPhone update that rendered unlocked “jailbroken” iPhones inoperable.

According to a report by All Things Digital writer John Paczkowski, Palm is “unfazed” by Apple's post. A Palm spokesperson reportedly stated, “If Apple chooses to disable media sync in a future version of iTunes, it will be a direct blow to their users who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience.” The spokesperson went on to say that Pre users can always stay with the current iTunes version, or transfer the music via USB, and noted that “There are other third-party applications we could consider,” according to the story.

Pre enjoys brisk early sales …

The Pre seems to have been favorably reviewed in most early evaluations. According to a Wall Street Journal report last week, early Pre sales were strong, with analysts estimating first weekend shipments ranging between 50,000 and 100,000 units. The story noted, however, that two years ago Apple sold about 150,000 units of the original iPhone in its first weekend.

The Pre is not without its glitches, however. Limited battery life is a problem that won't be fixed until a future version, and a site called PreCentral has noted that crashes were an issue on at least one unit, which needed to be replaced. The story also noted that the backup utility could use some work.

… and gets hacked for remote desktop control

Other stories on PreCentral have linked to some early Pre hacks, including several from a hacker called Nebula from the #webos-internals IRC channel. After having ported a native Linux Nintendo emulator onto the Pre, it was reported yesterday, Nebula hacked a native Linux VNC (Virtual Network Computing) application to run on the Pre, enabling the phone to view and control a Linux desktop computer using RealVNC server (see video below). While the demo was a proof of concept, wrote PreCentral's Jason Robitaille, “it's a very impressive feat and really helps to show the strength and versatility the WebOS and Pre can come to represent.”

A demonstration of VNC running on Palm's Pre
Source: PreCentral
(click to play)


The eWEEK story on Apple's post regarding iTunes access may be found here, and the All Things Digital story on Palm's response should be here.

The Wall Street Journal report on early Pre sales should be here, and the PreCentral stories on the Pre's backup problems and VNC hacks, may be found here.

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