Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 24th Jul 2009 22:52 UTC
Editorial Every few years we geeks have our own kind of popcorn show to watch: tech companies showing teeth to one another. This time around, it's Palm vs Apple. In all seriousness though, how ethical is the battle around iTunes?
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mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

Apple is abusing its monopoly position right now. This is wrong. This must stop. Just as we would scream bloody murder if Microsoft were to intentionally break Firefox or SAMBA every other week, we should scream bloody murder now too. But now that it's Apple, it's suddenly all okay?


So impart your infinite wisdom to us Thom and tell us how exactly they are abusing their monopoly at all, let alone in a way anything close to being Microsoftesque?

iTunes is open - stock standard XML that ANYONE can write an app to interface with. iTunes provides methods for manually exporting and importing content if the user so wishes, thus allowing for manual transfer to another device. iTunes isn't tied in any way to the OS, and can be installed and uninstalled at will. iTunes supports industry standard file formats for Music, Audio and Audiobooks. The iPod and iPhone can be used with third party apps, and iTunes doesn't break the Pre or any other device you connect to it - it simply doesn't support them, just like the Canon scanner software will only talk to a Canon scanner.

So all we have here is a company protecting their development investment in an application that they give away for free to manage their media devices and phones - oh and of course the Apple haters trying to make it something it isn't.

But Thom, if I hear you correctly you are saying that it is OK for a company to restrict what devices their software supports until those devices become successful - or a so-called monopoly - at which point they have to then support other devices. Is that what you're trying to tell us Thom? So who determines the magical point at which it is a monopoly?

Reply Parent Score: 1

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

So impart your infinite wisdom to us Thom and tell us how exactly they are abusing their monopoly at all, let alone in a way anything close to being Microsoftesque?


They are knowingly and intentionally configuring their software to lock out a competitor's ability to interact with it optimally - for no other reason than to artificially bolster the appeal of their own competing hardware.

The Sherman Anti-trust Act Section 2 Part 2 forbids:

"The willful acquisition or maintenance of power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident"

The point is if Apple is considered a monopoly (and I think they probably would be now), then they can't do stuff like this - its illegal. Locking out 3rd party hardware clearly does not make their product better - it serves no other purpose than to stifle a competitor.

iTunes is open - stock standard XML that ANYONE can write an app to interface with. iTunes provides methods for manually exporting and importing content if the user so wishes, thus allowing for manual transfer to another device. iTunes isn't tied in any way to the OS, and can be installed and uninstalled at will. iTunes supports industry standard file formats for Music, Audio and Audiobooks. The iPod and iPhone can be used with third party apps, and iTunes doesn't break the Pre or any other device you connect to it - it simply doesn't support them, just like the Canon scanner software will only talk to a Canon scanner.


Anyone can interface with iTunes - but not optimally. Apple does not disclose the mechanism their hardware uses to interface with iTunes - which is fine. Apple is not required to support the efforts of their competitors - no one says they should do that. But at the same time, they cannot legally implement measures that serve no other purpose than to block interoperability - not if they are a monopoly.

But Thom, if I hear you correctly you are saying that it is OK for a company to restrict what devices their software supports until those devices become successful - or a so-called monopoly - at which point they have to then support other devices. Is that what you're trying to tell us Thom? So who determines the magical point at which it is a monopoly?


When there are enough competing products/users of said products to point out abuse and raise some hell about it... When that reaches critical mass - the "magical" point is reached. That simple - there is no obvious line that gets crossed. The Federal government generally doesn't go after monopolies based on their observation of abuse - they go after them when there are enough (justified) complaints from competitors/consumers to warrant it.

All that said - iTunes sucks balls - Palm should just write their own sync app or use Songbird... ;)

Reply Parent Score: 8

anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07


iTunes is open - stock standard XML that ANYONE can write an app to interface with.


I have seen this being mentioned in several comments now. But there is something I don't understand or might be misinterpreting, so maybe you can help clarifying it.

My understanding or intepretation of "write an app" is that there are facilities allowing 3rd party applications to access the data usually controlled through iTunes.

What I am not understanding is how this 3rd party software is being integrated into iTunes. Is this like an import/export plugin that gets activated in iTunes when a device of the 3rd party vendor attaches?

Or does it launch some service in the background and the users see their data being modified in iTunes?
It that's the case, how does iTunes display progress information, etc?

Well, there is one more possible interpretation that I can come up with, i.e. not using iTunes at all but a different GUI, but that would hardly count as syncing a device with iTunes, so it has to be one of the other two or an option I am currently not thinking about.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Vide Member since:
2006-02-17

WIth this XML file you can only write third-party apps that make use of the iTunes library but NOT make iTunes the software itself work with your HW device, which it's what Palm and any other vendor SHOULD BE ABLE to do. Because iPod is one thing and iTunes is another, and this counts if you are the big player (just as in Microsoft's case).

Reply Parent Score: 2