A technological battle erupted between Palm and Apple. Apple’s iPhone shook the economy when it was released two years ago with its multi-touch screen and unlimited capabilities. Palm quickly hired ex-Apple employees in an attempt to compete with the iPhone and cash in on high demand for all-in-one mobile devices. Palm released the Precentral (Pre) on June 6, 2009. The Palm Pre had immediate success, especially because it was capable of syncing with Apple’s iTunes. The Palm Pre could download songs identical to the iPhone. But recently, on July 15, 2009, iTunes released an update, iTunes 8.2.1, which blocks the Palm Pre and other non-Apple products from syncing with iTunes.
Apple spokeswomen, Natalie Kerris, said the new “iTunes 8.2.1 is a free software update that provides a number of important bug fixes, …[i]t 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.” Lynn Fox, a spokeswoman from Palm, stated that “Palm’s media sync works with iTunes 8.2. If Apple chooses to disable media sync in iTunes, [such action] will be a direct blow to their users who will be deprived of a seamless synchronization experience. However, people will have options. They can stay with the iTunes version that works to sync their music on their Pre, they can transfer the music via USB, and there are other third-party applications we can consider.”
Although the iPhone is the first of its kind, it is not unique in the sense that mobile device companies have been combining many features into one device for quite some time. The iPhone just seems to have optimized combining many applications and programs into one easy to use device. Naturally, other companies, such as Palm, want to create revenue in the market by manufacturing similar products. In addition to blocking Palm’s syncing capabilities, Apple warns about possible infringement actions, but has not taken any action yet. Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, stated that Apple has filed over 200 patent applications on the iPhone. Apple is examining the Palm and possible infringement suits that Apple may file as those patents issue. The Patent Office during examination of patent applications often requires claims of patent applications to be narrowed or otherwise amended during the prosecution of the application. Depending on the scope of the claims following examination (which assumes issuance of one or more of the patent applications), the possibility of filing any lawsuits and/or determining if infringement of any issued patent exists will take place.
Apple’s Tim Cook stated “[w]e like competition–as long as our competitors don’t rip off our IP. And we’re going to go after anyone who does. I’m not talking about any particular company, but we are ready to suit up and go against anyone. We will not stand for having our IP ripped off, and we will use every weapon at our disposal.” Reading that quote, we can only anticipate that some sort of lawsuit from Apple in the months and/or years to come against one or more of its competitors.
Image from: http://blog.taragana.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/iphone-3g-vs-palm-pre.jpg