So how far will a company piss off its own users to lock out another company?

Palm Logo

Apple logo

Interesting things going on in the world of phones, MP3 players and MP3 sales. Here’s a brief timeline:

  1. Apple’s iTunes system allows people to purchase from the iTunes store, synchronise their content with their iPods, iPhones, and all other iThings.
  2. Palm launch the Prē. Among the many things the Prē does is allow syncing with iTunes.
  3. Apple decide they are not happy with this, and push an update of iTunes which ‘addresses an issue with the verification of Apple devices’. Their statement is pretty revealing, naming the Prē specifically.
  4. iTunes 8.2.1 is a free software update that provides a number of important bug fixes. It also disables devices falsely pretending to be iPods, including the Palm Pre. As we’ve said before, newer versions of Apple’s iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with unsupported digital media players.

  5. Palm updates WebOS on the Prē. Among the changes this update includes is a fix to ‘an issue preventing media sync from working with latest version of iTunes (8.2.1)’.

Now, the question is ‘where do Apple go from here?’ In terms of the technical side of things, they seem to have two options.

The first is to keep pushing out updates of iTunes which block the Prē each time Palm finds a way to re-enable syncing with iTunes. Problem with this is that there’s no advantage to actual Apple media player users with each update, they have to re-install iTunes purely to allow Apple to block Palm users.

The second option is to do nothing, and tacitly accept that they’ve created an ecosystem which is too large to lock other players out of. Problem with this is that it involves them giving up a segment of control of the ecosystem, which Apple are traditionally very adverse to doing.

Difficult choice.

Gizmodo’s coverage of the initial lockout here, and the re-enabling here.

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