Palm Pre IPod Spoofing Confirmed


The new Palm Pre cellphone has a “media sync” feature which lets the device sync with iTunes in a fashion identical to an iPod. Last week [Jon Lech Johansen] speculated that this was not done in cooperation with Apple and that Palm was spoofing the iPod’s USB controller. This was confirmed today when a tipster sent him a screenshot of what the device reports in both standard and media sync modes. The Palm Pre reports its Product ID as iPod and Vendor ID as Apple with a few other changes. [Jon] notes that it doesn’t change the root USB node, so Apple should be able to block this behavior with an iTunes update. With Palm already pulling tricks like this presumably through software we wonder if this will become a full-on arms race.

29 thoughts on “Palm Pre IPod Spoofing Confirmed

  1. Palm is about to get an Apple lawyer shoved in their cake hole.

    USB VID cost a few grand each year, and are specifically noted as Intellectual Property.

    Palm is too well known — unlike the Chinese knock off products that get away with this sort of thing.

  2. Seems to me like a somewhat more robust approach would be to have the pre show up as a generic usb hub, with the pre as one attached device, and the spoofed iPod as another. (With Zune support to follow?)

  3. I don’t get it why the hype on Palm. They were #1 in the world with PDAs at one point in life and they simply dropped the support and the development of PalmOS. However, you can still buy that stuff anywhere (Frys, etc.) I use to develop SW for Palm because Palm always said that they will support their products. Yeah right! Now we shouldn’t follow the game with Palm. Palm has shown lack of seriousness with their products in terms of support. Today they dropped the PDAs and continue with the phones. Tomorrow will drop the (support) for the phones (OS) and will continue with something different….

  4. @ Seth, Thethirdmoose: Since the Pre is reporting itself as an “iPod”, that’s trademark infringement. Second, the USB VID is purchased, and Apple has all rights to it. Third, Palm, as a USB VID owner as well agreed not to use other company vids by the USB agreement that they sign with the USB consortium. Plus what ever other legal ramifications a real lawyer or lawyer squad can find.

  5. I can’t stand Itunes anyway, it runs 4 useless background processes for no good reason.

    Apple should just move to selling the straight MP3’s of songs that don’t have DRM, then you can put them wherever you like without begging.

  6. You can use any vid/pid you like if you dont want to show a certified for USB logo.

    I can’t see how 0x106b is an apple trademark either. Fooling iTunes about the origin of the product is not the same as fooling the consumer about the origin of the product.

  7. @Seth,
    “Is it illegal for a device to lie about what it is?”
    No, old iPods actually enumerate multiple devices (one is a generic HD )

    It is illegal in most countries to infringe on Intellectual Property – even if it is just a number. USB PIDs are not VIDs, and are not generic even though homebrew people spoof random numbers for drivers all the time.

    @apu, you would get yourself and your company sued if you try to sell such a device.

    @whengreg, the R4 exporters are getting in deep shit for the same thing.

    Welcome to the real world of software development – you can’t do it unless legal clears it first.

    If you don’t profit from the device then technically it is only still illegal in the USA.

  8. It seems too obvious a hack for Palm to be just hoping to get away with it.

    Maybe Palm’s use of the VID was agreed to by Apple and during their recent multitouch patent spat.

  9. whengreg: That’s the Sega Genesis/Megadrive you’re thinking of. It was slightly different there, since Sega’s lockout code was literally “S E G A”, which they used as the basis for a copyright complaint ( Accolade (they lost). They added the “Produced under license from…” message to later revisions of the firmware, which was upheld as valid. The issue with the NES was much more clear cut. The American/European versions of the Famicom contained a lockout chip called 10NES ( ) to prevent unauthorized software. Tengen copied its code in its entirety, and were sued for copyright infringement as a result. Since they copied non-functional portions of the 10NES code, they lost a copyright infringement suit brought by Nintendo.

  10. I think it is under circumstances illegal to wilfully bypass security to gain access without permission, so in that sense a lawyer with the gift of gab could sell it as illegal.

  11. I’m with mark here, I don’t see how Palm thought they could get away with this. they knew that Apple would do anything to kill their support for iTunes, and doing something illegal is just giving fodder to Apple’s lawyers

  12. If I were apple, i’d let it continue that way. Then when it messes up, apple doesn’t have to employ the people to take the heat from frustrated customers :)

    If the company wants offical support, then let them pay apple for the deal. otherwise i think getting at it any way you can should be kosher.

  13. Pierce Brosnan you are an IDIOT. PalmOS was developed for PDA devices. Then when cellphones started being integrated into PDA’s there was a limitation on what could be done. The only thing they could do was develop an OS specifically for a Phone with PDA second in mind instead of vise versa.

  14. My name is Brian, and I just got my Pre on Saturday by a stroke of sheer luck… They “Found” 10 extra units in the back room when everywhere else was sold out.

    I LOVE this phone, but I’m getting a little tired of hearing about how much better the iPhone is by Apple fans who haven’t even touched the Pre.

    Yes, the iPhone is nice and all that, but come on.. let us enjoy our phones in peace. There’s no need to tell us that our phone sucks when we just laid 3-400 bucks down on the counter for it.

    I hang out at a site made for all Palm Pre owners.

  15. could this mean that somone may be able to give the touchpad this feature and possibly allow for this device to be formated and have ios installed? If a hack could be made to trick itunes to think an iPad was connected then all you wound need is an ios port with touchpad hardware support. I may be wrong outfit seems doable?

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