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
Member since:
2008-12-28

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.

Reply Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

iTunes created to sell iPods


I've heard that frequently in the last few weeks, but the reality is that the first iPod came out in (late) 2001, while iTunes was released in January of 2001. It would be hard for iTunes to have been created to sell a product that came out later on.

And, in fact, there was a time when iTunes did work with third-party MP3 players. E.g., I have an old Creative Nomad II kicking around somewhere, it works (or at least worked) with iTunes just fine.

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?


Of course not - and I have yet to encounter anyone suggesting otherwise, except for slippery-slope arguments from people supporting Apple's position.

Frankly, I think that's a bit of a red herring. There is a significant difference between Apple refraining from going out of their way to actively break interoperability - and Apple bending over backwards to support interoperability.

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?


Not the same thing, for the same reasons I mentioned above. The comparable situation would be (E.g.) if Microsoft were to deliberately modify their software to prevent it from running under WINE.

Edited 2009-07-28 19:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Philip Grant Member since:
2008-12-28

"iTunes created to sell iPods


I've heard that frequently in the last few weeks, but the reality is that the first iPod came out in (late) 2001, while iTunes was released in January of 2001. It would be hard for iTunes to have been created to sell a product that came out later on.
"

Itunes began to be developed before Apple got its hands on it in, in about 2000, but at some point it was aligned as an interface for the iPod. Not how it started, but what it became, adding the iTunes store too.

Myself, I can't see anything wrong with developing their software exclusively for their hardware. Anyway, imagine a far better device than an iPod or iPhone came on the market, but wasn't able to connect to iTunes, but then Apple opened up iTunes to any device, it would seem fair to allow that new device to block iTunes and to operate only with its own software. It's swings and roundabouts... At the moment there is more competition to compete with Apple and the iTunes store if you are locked out of iTunes.

Patents last so long and technology catches up, nothing stays the same... but if such practices stay the same, everything will be fair in time. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Reply Parent Score: 1