Linked by Kroc Camen on Tue 28th Jul 2009 09:55 UTC
Podcasts We focus on this week's tit-for-tat bickering between Microsoft, the GPL and Linus [Torvalds]; and Apple and Palm--caught tugging either end of iTunes with neither willing to let go. Can't we all just get along?
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Philip Grant
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As I understand it, Microsoft have been forced into sharing their code as they had built their own static functionality out of the open source code, in violation of whatever licence. Effectively, Microsoft were caught out stealing open source code. They had one option. This is not indicative of any change of attitude in the higher echelons of Microsoft... only forced capitulation.

Your discussion prompts a great question of what constitutes monopoly abuse? Palm are still able to use USB on a Mac, just not iTunes if Apple have their way. The argument that iTunes should work with other hardware is the same as questioning the legitimacy of tying an operating system to particular hardware.

Apple have a patent for the look and feel of iTunes. The patent was created to give them a monopoly tethered to their hardware ecosystem, iTunes created to sell iPods, pointless if they are forced to share that technology and the ecosystem created, when others want to profit from the success of another companies intellectual property, simply because they have a monopoly. If Thom believes other hardware has a right to interoperate with a monopoly software product then you must be arguing against any form of monopoly... and where is the incentive to create their own competing software then?

Whether the environment is hardware or software, a monopoly, as pointed out be Thom, is not intrinsically bad. Just because there's a monopoly, you should not be forced to support others products. If software queries the manufacturer of the hardware device, that is absolutely the right of the software owner and defeating hacks developed to undermine that monopoly is also their right.

Kroc is quite right, Palm has created a hack to give their device extra functionality through misrepresentation, but if Apple are obliged to allow other devices to operate with iTunes, does that suggest a responsibility to support certain standards and share technical information also? Where then is the legal boundary of responsibility? Should Apple be forced to give out technical details of their iPhone build, driver specifications and requirements, so that others can put their own operating systems on there? Should they be forced to say, "Here is information to make your product work with our technology. Now go write your own software... and while you're at it, write your own music loader for your MP3 device... I think you have no barrier to this."

Does any company have a right to put their software on a product which is considered to have a monopoly position? Then is the vetting of applications sold on the iPhone app store also an abuse of monopoly position? Can you tell me Thom, where have Apple abused their iTunes monopoly? Just because Apple are trying to protect their monopoly?

Hmm... as Microsoft have written software to operate only within their monopoly operating system environment, within the PC ecosystem of hardware and software, should they be forced to also write their software to work on Apple and Linux? Should Direct X be ported to other operating systems so that games can be easily ported to Mac hardware or at least be forced to release the technical specifications for all their software?

Creating a barrier to global interoperability is the essence of intellectual property and monopolies.

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