No one likes a tattle-tale. But there is a bit of satisfaction that comes when the tables turn on the tattler.
That's what happened to Palm this week when it ratted out Apple to the USB Implementers Forum, an industry group that oversees the USB standard. Palm, you'll recall, marketed the Pre smartphone as being compatible with iTunes synchronization. Shortly after, Apple stepped in with an "I don't think so" and tweaked the software to disable it. Apple tells Palm to cut it out but Palm doesn't give up, issuing tweaks to re-enable the sync feature on the Pre, followed by yet another tweak by Apple to block it again.
I love where this story goes from here.
Palm goes crying to the USB-IF about this, squawking about how Apple issued an update that used its USB Vendor ID number to block any non-Apple device from syncing with iTunes. Palm says Apple violated the spirit of the USB-IF membership agreement, which is supposed to "facilitate interoperability between USB devices, not to regulate the content that flows between them."
The interesting part comes in the "by the way" of the letter, which was obtained and posted by Digital Daily blog. It turns out that Palm - not Apple - may be the one who's violating the spirit of the agreement. In it's letter to the USB-IF, Palm reportedly wrote:
Palm will shortly issue an update of its WebOS operating system that uses Apple’s Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring the Palm media sync functionality.
Whoa. Palm will use Apple's Vendor ID number - not its own - to trick the system into thinking the Pre is a Palm device? Is that allowed?
Apparently not. The USB-IF letter to Palm continues:
I attach for your information the USB-IF’s adopted and published policy regarding Vendor Identification Numbers (VIDs). Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage. Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy. Please clarify Palm’s intent and respond to this potential violation within seven days.
Oh crap. That can't be the outcome that Palm had hoped for. Now, it's on the hot seat.
This reminds me of the kid who goes into his older brother's room to play with one of his brother's toys. When the older brother takes it away, the younger brother goes crying to mom, who says the younger brother had no business playing with toys that didn't belong to him in the first place and to leave his brother's stuff alone.
If I were Apple - aka the older brother - I'd be walking around right about now, chanting "Neener, Neener, Neener" in Palm's face.