Apple likely victor in Palm USB dispute

In the latest chapter in the ongoing dispute between Apple and Palm over the latter’s Pre handset and its ability to sync with iTunes, an USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) executive has responded to Palm’s complaint over Apple’s continuous efforts to block the device. When Palm initially released the Pre, its Mass Storage interface identified itself as an iPod, allowing it to trick iTunes and sync.

Apple blocked this approach with the release of iTunes 8.2.1 on July 15, which prompted Palm to write a complaint to the USB-IF on July 22. In the complaint, Palm said Apple’s use of its Vendor ID to block other devices from syncing with its software, the method used in the iTunes 8.2.1 update to block Pre syncing, was unfair, and stated that it would issue an update which would use “Apple’s Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring Palm media sync functionality,” which it did just two days later.

Now, according to BusinessWeek, USB-IF executive director Traci Donnell has written a response to Palm, stating that “Palm’s allegation (if true) does not establish that Apple is using its Vendor ID contrary to USB-IF’s policies,” suggesting that it is completely within Apple’s rights to restrict iTunes syncing to devices carrying its Vendor ID. Furthermore, Donell said that Palm’s plan to use Apple’s Vendor ID to circumvent the iTunes block is against policy, writing, “Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage….Usage of another company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded,” adding that Palm has seven days to “clarify its intent.” Notably, Apple’s latest iTunes releases, iTunes 9 and 9.0.1, again block Pre syncing; Palm has yet to release an update to restore functionality under the new software.