I'm usually the last one to suggest that lawyers get involved in business disputes, largely because the only ones who win are the lawyers. I can't help but wonder if it's time for Apple's legal team to step in and ask a judge to bring to an end - once and for all - this cat-and-mouse game between Palm and Apple over synchronization between iTunes and the Palm Pre.
Over the weekend, the Digital Daily blog reported that Palm's latest smartphone software upgrade re-enabled (again) the iTunes sync feature, which has been repeatedly disabled by Apple with its own software updates to iTunes. And now, adding insult to injury, Palm has also included photo synchronization, too.
What makes this move by Palm especially bold is that USB Implementers Forum, an industry group that oversees the USB standard, recently sided with Apple after Palm turned to it to accuse Apple of "hampering competition" by blocking the sync feature. When Palm informed the USB-IF that it intended to use Apple's USB vendor ID number to trick the software into thinking that the Pre is an Apple device, the group warned Palm that it could be in violation of the agency's policy for unauthorized usage of a vendor ID number.
Also see: Palm, not Apple, deserves black eye for iTunes sync confusion
USB-IF. Vendor numbers. Blah blah blah. I think Palm wants to get this issue into the courts - either a court of law or the courts of public opinion. There have long been critics who've accused Apple of being monopolistic because of the closed relationship between hardware (iPods and iPhones in this instance) and the software (iTunes). Trying to get the court of public fired up should be no problem. The blogosphere - and its readers - are just waiting for a debate like this so they can slam/defend the beloved/despised Apple.
When it comes to the legal courts, Mac clone maker Psystar has a legal jumpstart of more than a year with its own battle about the closed relationship between Macs and Apple's computer operating system, OS X. Despite the back and forths in the Apple-Psystar case, Psystar continues to offer a good fight.
Can the Palm-Apple cat-and-mouse game go until the Psystar case is settled? Apple can surely hold out. But can Palm? At some point, either Apple or Palm has to come out on the losing end. But in the meantime, the only ones who lose are the owners of Palm devices. Syncing their devices with iTunes has become a crap shoot - and that can't make them very happy with the device or the experience.