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It's a soap opera week, with Adam's investigation of how Apple has inexplicably requested that Google disapprove AdWords ads that use Apple trademarks. Then Jeff Carlson turns his attention to the recent announcement that Palm will be producing a Treo that uses Windows Mobile rather than the Palm OS. In the news, EMC Dantz has released Retrospect 6.1 to provide full Tiger compatibility, and Apple responds to complaints about scratched iPod nano screens.
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Apple Addresses Flaws in Some iPod nanos -- Shortly after writing about the iPod nano (see "New iPod nano Replaces iPod mini" in TidBITS-796), a reader wrote to me asking, "What about the issue of reports of the easy breaking of the screen when there has been no obvious / excessive / accidental misuse of the iPod nano?" As the device had only been out a few days, I had no idea what he was talking about. Soon, though, I began to see reports on the Web about people having problems with iPod nano screens cracking without being mishandled, as well as scratched screens. At that point, I didn't pay it much attention: when dealing with hundreds of thousands of consumer hardware devices, some flawed ones are bound to appear.
Last week, however, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller addressed the problem in an interview with Macworld Magazine. He said that less than one-tenth of one percent of the iPod nano units suffer from a manufacturing defect, and that owners with the problem can call AppleCare to have the iPod replaced. As for the scratches, Schiller noted that the screens use the same materials found on the current iPod color line, which have not generated complaints. (One enterprising owner documented his success at using a $4 can of Brasso to bring his black iPod nano back to like-new condition.) [JLC]
Retrospect 6.1 Gains Full Tiger Compatibility -- Although Retrospect 6.0 has worked fine with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in general, it doesn't support two of Tiger's new features: access control lists (ACLs) that enable administrators to control who can access and modify files stored on a Mac OS X 10.4 server and extended attributes that will be used by future Mac applications. EMC Dantz has now released Retrospect 6.1 to add support ACLs and extended attributes. Needless to say, most people didn't even notice this omission in Retrospect 6.0, but it's nice to see the update anyway. A similar update for Retrospect Express 6.1 will be available in the future (Retrospect Express users running Tiger should be sure to update to Retrospect Express 6.0.212). The Retrospect 6.1 update is free for Retrospect 6.0 owners; it's a 24 MB download. [ACE]
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by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There aren't many Mac programs that come with their own mascot, but the FTP/SFTP program Fetch has long stood out. It was one of the first graphical FTP programs on any platform, written in 1989 by Jim Matthews while working at Dartmouth College. Then, in 2000, Jim used some of his winnings from the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire television program to buy Fetch from Dartmouth, after which he resumed work on the program, porting it to Mac OS X, revamping the interface, and adding support for SFTP. The result is Fetch 5.0, a spare, elegant file transfer program, that's perfect for Web publishing, uploading and downloading from Internet FTP sites, sending files to service bureaus, and even just transferring files around your network.
by Jeff Carlson <email@example.com>
On 26-Sep-05, the heads of Palm, Microsoft, and Verizon Wireless held a joint press conference to announce a new Palm Treo smartphone running Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0, not the Palm OS. Although rumors had pegged such a device for months (you can see pictures of one at Engadget, which also had video in early August of what appears to be a developmental model), the announcement still came as a bit of a shock to people who have always associated Palm the company (in its many iterations) with the Palm operating system.
Despite the press event, the Windows Treo is not yet a shipping product, and doesn't even have a model number. It will be available in early 2006, and will at first be exclusive to the Verizon Wireless network.
Why go with Windows Mobile when Palm has invested so heavily in the Palm OS? Or, as a friend of mine commented, "That just seems like the worst business plan ever. If you have Palm in your name, you should still be committed to the OS." If you've watched Palm over the years, however, you know it's not so simple. If you haven't, well, it can be outright confusing. But despite the apparent oddity of a Windows-based, Palm-branded handheld, it just may be the thing to ensure that Palm, Inc. stays in business.
A Gnarled Family Tree -- The last time I wrote about Palm for TidBITS (see "PalmSource to Drop Mac Support in Palm OS Cobalt" in TidBITS-717), Palm, Inc. had spun off its Palm OS division into a subsidiary called PalmSource. Up to that point, Palm had become the dominant handheld vendor, but didn't do much to innovate in its space, leaving the door open to rivals such as Microsoft to build Windows CE (also called PocketPC and now Windows Mobile) and Research in Motion (RIM) to succeed with its Blackberry handhelds.
Realizing that it needed some sort of smartphone product, Palm purchased rival Handspring - which was originally formed by the founders of Palm who had bailed to forge their own handheld path - to acquire Handspring's promising Treo line of smartphones. Together, Palm and Handspring became palmOne (with annoying capitalization). Palm was going to design the hardware, while PalmSource tried the Microsoft route of licensing its operating system back to palmOne and to other vendors such as Sony.
Unfortunately, things went south from there, especially for PalmSource. Sony abandoned the market entirely, leaving palmOne the only large Palm OS licensee. Worse, the highly touted Palm OS 6, also known as Palm OS Cobalt, was largely ignored by palmOne. Although Cobalt was designed specifically with mobile handhelds in mind, palmOne had successfully adapted Palm OS 5 (also called Garnet) to perform those functions in its Treo line. To date, nearly two years after PalmSource was spun off, Cobalt hasn't appeared on any handhelds (though Oswin Technology demonstrated a Cobalt smartphone at the last PalmSource DevCon in May).
In July 2005, palmOne tossed $30 million to PalmSource to acquire full rights to the Palm name, and renamed itself the appropriately capitalized Palm, Inc. PalmSource, meanwhile, shifted its development efforts and is now working on building Cobalt to run on top of Linux. In September, PalmSource announced that it is being acquired by Tokyo-based Access Co., Ltd. for $324.3 million in cash.
Looking at where the players have ended up so far, I can't help but draw comparisons to Apple and the Macintosh: as young companies, Apple and Palm dominated their fields, grew complacent, and were slowly but surely pushed to the edge of the market - by Microsoft. Unlike a lot of people, I've never believed that if Apple had licensed the Mac OS, they'd now own the personal computer market; that approach has really worked only once... with Microsoft. (The jury is still out on Linux, but that's a slightly different case: Linux is a grass-roots operating system that has made enormous strides in certain highly technical markets, where the driving force is not market domination on the road to riches, but market domination on the road to weakening Microsoft.)
Perhaps if PalmSource had been able to convince Palm to start using Cobalt, they would have fared better. But from the outside, it looks as if they spent two years tinkering instead of selling Cobalt to device makers. "Real artists ship," as Steve Jobs is famously quoted.
Enter Microsoft -- While Palm has been flailing about like a kid who's just eaten all of his Halloween candy, Microsoft has been relatively slow and steady in its Windows Mobile development. The last version I really got my hands on was in 2001 when I reviewed an HP iPaq for HOW Magazine, which, while an improvement over previous versions, still felt counter-intuitive and awkward. Windows Mobile 5.0, which powers the upcoming Treo, seems more usable.
And one of the things that Windows Mobile offers that the Palm OS has had trouble with is remote integration with Microsoft Exchange. Companies invested in Exchange Server want their employees to be able to interact directly on smartphones, which the new Treo is capable of providing. The new device doesn't possess the capability to receive email messages pushed to it - the feature that has made RIM's Blackberry handhelds so popular - but it will be available in the future.
One upside, at least from what I could tell by watching portions of the streamed Palm/Microsoft/Verizon press conference, is that Palm has applied their expertise in phone software to the new Treo. Aside from the advantage of having a phone and organizer combined into one device, the main advantage of the Treo has been its superior software. For example, Palm demonstrated how the new Treo can decline an incoming call by sending a quick text message to the person who's calling, rather than send them to voicemail or ignoring the call.
Another big advantage to the Windows Treo is the capability to use Verizon Wireless's BroadbandAccess service on its EV-DO network, which offers download speeds averaging 400 to 700 Kbps, according to the companies' press release. The current Treos don't appear to be able to support EV-DO yet.
Palm Support on the Mac -- As usual, native Mac support is either nonexistent or unclear; we'll know more when the device is actually released. However, I have to commend Mac developer Mark/Space for their positioning: they currently offer The Missing Sync for Windows Mobile 2.0 for existing Windows Mobile devices (though Windows Mobile 5.0 is not yet supported).
It's possible that Palm may update Palm Desktop to provide compatibility with the new device, but I'm not holding my breath. The company only recently (in the last few months) fixed a problem I wrote about in August 2004 (see "Escaping Palm HotSync Installation Hell" in TidBITS-744). The installer would run into a permissions problem that was infuriating to work around.
Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Rev D finally fixes the problem. (Technically, Rev C fixed it, but then was unavailable for a short time until Rev D appeared. If you downloaded and installed Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Rev C and HotSync works fine, you don't need to update to Rev D; the installer is a 17.1 MB download.)
Note that when I was helping a friend install Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Rev C on his PowerBook, I needed to eradicate every trace of Palm Desktop and HotSync to get the installer to work correctly. Simply trashing the application folder, as Palm recommends, didn't do the job; we had to find and delete all Palm and HotSync preferences and related files (such as synchronization conduits) before installing.
The Future of the Palm OS -- I'm not quite ready to claim that the Palm OS is dead: Palm, Inc. continues to sell plenty of organizers and Treos (470,000 Treos were sold in the most recent financial quarter), and Palm CEO Ed Colligan stated at the Windows Treo press conference that the company would continue to sell Palm OS Treos. It also has four years of Palm OS licensing paid for as part of the Palm, Inc. branding deal with PalmSource.
And yet, with PalmSource sold off and Microsoft stepping in, I can't help but think that the Palm OS needs to start showing something spectacular in the future to avoid the fate of other up-and-coming operating systems. Look at what happened to the BeOS: it was bought by PalmSource and never heard from again.
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you make a Mac-related product, or provide a Mac-related service like consulting, you're probably using some of Apple's trademarks like "Mac" and "Macintosh" in your advertising. Chances are you've never thought twice about doing that, since, after all, you're contributing to the vibrant economy that helps the Macintosh continue to be profitable for Apple - without software from independent developers and without Mac consultants, the Mac would quickly wither away.
And yet, some recent unsettling events indicate that Apple may in fact be moving in the direction of preventing third-parties from using Apple trademarks in advertising. Last week, I received a confusing email message from Google AdWords Support, telling me that they had "disapproved" several of the ads I placed for "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups" because the ads used the trademarked term "Mac" in their text (there was no complaint about the fact that I was using "Mac" as one of the keywords that triggered my ads). Google's message gave no further details about why these ads, which had been running for many months, were suddenly in violation of Apple's trademark (presumably - the message didn't identify the trademark owner). It did point to Google's page on Trademark Complaint Procedures, which didn't tell me, as the person supposedly violating a trademark, anything useful.
Initially, I presumed it was all just a silly mistake, since it's utterly inane that Apple would restrict the use of its trademarks in advertising for Macintosh-related products. Apple has fairly explicit guidelines for the use of Apple trademarks and copyright, and they say in part:
"Developers may use Apple, Macintosh, iMac, or any other Apple word mark (but not the Apple Logo or other Apple-owned graphic symbol/logo) in a referential phrase on packaging or promotional/advertising materials to describe that the third party product is compatible with the referenced Apple product or technology, provided they comply with the following requirements..."
But then I learned from a number of other well-known Macintosh developers and consultants, including Bare Bones Software and Fetch Softworks, that their Google AdWords ads had been disapproved as well. The ban wasn't universal, though, and a Google search on "Apple Mac" still reveals numerous ads that use "Mac" in their text. Clearly, the plot was thickening.
Next, I queried Google AdWords Support in an attempt to discover why only some ads had been singled out, and on what basis they were disapproved, given Apple's highly public guidelines for trademark use. To their credit, Google AdWords Support responded fairly quickly, though with utterly generic and unhelpful text. The message again referred only to "the trademark owner of 'Mac,'" rather than identifying Apple in any way, and said that "The trademark owner of 'Mac' notified us that your AdWords ads were running with the trademarked term without the trademark owner's permission or other legal authority for doing so." It went on to tell me that if I believed I should be able to use the term "Mac" in an ad, that I should resolve that with the trademark owner.
Annoyed by such mealy mouthed responses from Google, a company I thought better of, I made my requests even more specific, asking for confirmation that Apple Computer had explicitly requested that my particular ads be disapproved because they included the word "Mac." It seemed reasonable that if such a complaint was in fact being made about my ads, that I be given the chance to see it, especially in light of Apple's trademark guidelines, which seemed to give all the permission that was needed. I also asked again why only some ads had been disapproved. The response was again quick, and only moderately more informational, if not actually helpful. Google refused to provide me with a copy of Apple's request (this was the first time that they had acknowledged that Apple was the trademark owner), and ignored my other questions. The note did, for the first time, give actual instructions for how someone using a trademarked term in a disapproved ad could have it approved again: it involved Apple faxing a signed letter on company letterhead to Google with an explicit statement authorizing the use of the trademarked term, along with my Google login email address or customer ID.
In an effort to learn Google's official line, I talked with Google PR, through whom Rose Hagan, senior trademark counsel at Google, told me, "It's our policy to not disclose information on specific actions we have taken regarding our trademark policy in order to protect our advertisers' confidential information. However, we can confirm that we have received a complaint under our trademark complaint procedure from Apple regarding ads targeting the EU. Our longstanding policy outside of the United States and Canada is that we do not allow the use of trademarks as keywords if the trademark owner objects."
Hagan also said, "Google AdWords uses the targeting criteria of the campaign to determine whether or not to show ads with trademarked terms as keywords or in the ad text. Depending on where the ad is targeted, will determine what trademark policy applies." But when I created and submitted a new ad that used the word "Mac," it was rejected instantly as containing a trademark, even though the campaign was limited to the U.S. When I requested an exception based on the geographic distribution, Google allowed it through.
What if you want to use Google AdWords to market your Mac-related product or service in the EU? Good luck, since your only hope is to get that permission slip from Apple Legal sent to Google, and at the moment, there's no indication that Apple is willing to issue such permission slips to everyone who might want one. Although they ignored my request for additional information, you can attempt to contact Apple's Trademark Department at <email@example.com>. Unfortunately, I was unable to learn why EU trademark law is sufficiently different from U.S. trademark law to enable these restrictions.
In case you were wondering, the Apple trademarks at issue here are apparently: Apple, iPod, Shuffle, Mac, Mac Mini, iMac, iBook, PowerBook, Power Mac, iTunes, and iTMS. That's by no means a full list of Apple trademarks, which has some truly amusing entries, such as AirMac, Encyclomedia, HotSauce, Moof (and the associated dogcow logo), PowerLunch, SourceBug, and, get this, Yum.
Of course, it's possible that Google disapproved other ads that included words like "apple" and "shuffle" because of this, but since Apple's trademarks are topic-specific, you can in theory still advertise an apple peeler or a book about card shuffling tricks. In such situations, I certainly hope that exception requests would be honored instantly.
Now, I hope it's clear that I don't think Google is primarily to blame for this snafu. I think Google AdWords Support handled it poorly at the beginning, but Google PR eventually came through with an official line that contained the necessary clue on how to work around the problem for anyone who doesn't want to market to the EU via Google AdWords.
Apple is another story. Although I've learned from sources that Apple Developer Relations is aware of the issue and has suggested the same workaround as Google's trademark counsel (limiting geographic distribution), Apple PR failed to get back to me with an official statement explaining the situation. In the absence of such a statement, all I can do is speculate as to Apple's motivations and goals, and in this case, that's more difficult than normal. Usually, when Apple makes an unpopular move, it's relatively easy to see how the company stands to benefit, even if there's a trade-off in bad publicity. That's certainly been the case when Apple pulled out of Macworld Boston, when it sued Think Secret, and when it attempted to subpoena records from online journalists relating to leaked information regarding a FireWire audio interface for GarageBand. In those situations, Apple was attempting to keep control over its product release schedule, how it spent marketing money to attract new customers, and its trade secrets.
Control is likely the issue here as well. Apple's trademark use guidelines are quite explicit, but it's likely that most people aren't aware of them at all, so this sort of a request could be a shotgun approach to clearing out people who are misusing Apple's trademarks in Google AdWords ads, at least in the EU. If so, it would seem to be a highly misguided approach, since it will harm every legitimate Macintosh or iPod developer, consultant, or reseller that relies on Google AdWords as a way of reaching EU customers. Sure, it's not absolutely essential to include Apple's trademarked terms in ad text, since the ads will still show if the appropriate keywords are entered during a search. But at the same time, for ads relating to Macintosh or iPod products or services to be effective, it's a bit of a stretch to come up with wording within Google's tight character count limits that's clearly descriptive. Heck, it can be hard enough even when you can use trademarked terms.
Could this be a trial balloon to prevent Apple's trademarks from being used in any sort of third-party advertising or marketing materials? It seems highly unlikely, but even restricting the use of Apple trademarks in the EU seemed ridiculous. And again, apart from a sense of control, it's unclear why Apple would even conceive of doing this. Without successful software and other products and services from people outside Apple, the Macintosh would wither quickly, and although the iPod isn't nearly as reliant on all the cases and accessories that have appeared, it too would suffer. It's difficult enough to attract new customers in the limited Macintosh market as it is, and I can't see how making it even harder helps anyone.
In the end, I'm going to err on the side of stupidity rather than spite, and guess that some eager legal beaver at Apple saw an egregious misuse of an Apple trademark within an ad at Google and decided to shut it down via a cease-and-desist letter that was far broader than it should have been, or was interpreted that way by Google's lawyers. It's especially a crying shame that Apple had to go off half-cocked like this, with neither Apple PR nor Apple Developer Relations knowing what was happening initially, since the AdWords disapprovals caused much unnecessary gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair in the Macintosh developer community. Even assuming that the decision had some rationale behind it, Apple should have anticipated the furor and put a process in place to deal with it ahead of time, rather than wait for Mac developers and the press to squawk. Now we just have to wait and see how Apple cleans up this entirely avoidable mess.
by TidBITS Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first link for each thread description points to the traditional TidBITS Talk interface; the second link points to the same discussion on our Web Crossing server, which provides a different look and which may be faster.
XPostFacto 4 experiences -- A reader looks for real-world experience with the software for installing Mac OS X on unsupported systems. (2 messages)
File copy program -- Readers discuss various backup/synchronization tools, from those built into Mac OS X's Unix underpinnings to commercial products. (12 message)
Movies, advertising & product placements -- When you see a Mac in a movie or advertisement, did Apple pay for it? And how prevalent is product placement these days? (The ice industry must have scored well with March of the Penguins!) (7 messages)
Issues with .Mac groups -- A reader points out discrepancies among which users can access .Mac groups, leading to confusion. (1 message)
An *EASY* "alarm clock" program? With oodles of processing power and the latest electronics, is it really so hard to use an iBook as a simple alarm clock? A number of possibilities are available. (5 messages)
Search for the ultimate keyboard -- Readers weigh in with their recommendations. (13 messages)
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