Rumor: Apple to nix iPod-Xbox 360 compatibility

Source: A News.com story from late last week. The official story: Apple does not comment about future products. What we heard: According to the News.com story, Microsoft designed the Xbox 360's compatibility with the phenomenally successful portable music player without the support or consent of...

Source: A News.com story from late last week.

The official story: Apple does not comment about future products.

What we heard: According to the News.com story, Microsoft designed the Xbox 360's compatibility with the phenomenally successful portable music player without the support or consent of the gadget's maker, Apple. Xbox digital-entertainment executive producer Jeff Henshaw is quoted in the article as saying that Microsoft approached Apple to make the two pieces of geek kit officially compatible, but Apple balked. "So we went in and built all of the support we could," Henshaw then said.

That limited support means that music ripped to an iPod off of a user's own CD will be 360-compatible, but songs purchased through Apple's iTunes software will not work on a 360 due to the software's antipiracy measures. But because the Xbox 360 isn't officially compatible with the iPod, what compatibility remains could potentially be removed with an iPod firmware update if Apple so chooses.

On the one hand, it seems petty to cut out the limited Xbox 360 compatibility that lets users move only music burned from their own CDs to the Xbox 360 (using the iPod essentially as a handy way to get it from point A to point B) when Apple doesn't have a direct stake in the console wars. On the other hand, seeing as how the company recently started charging royalties to companies who make accessories that use the iPod's dock connector, it would make sense to send the message that unofficial iPod compatibility is frowned upon, and can be undermined with a simple software update.

Apple has also shown willingness in the past to protect its golden goose from the perceived scourge of unofficial compatibility. When RealNetworks started selling (unofficial) iPod-compatible digital music through its Rhapsody online music store last year, Apple updated its software to break that compatibility. RealNetworks later circumvented that and once again offers iPod-compatible downloads. Whether Apple couldn't figure out a way to once again lock out Rhapsody-downloaded songs without affecting the rest of a user's music, or if it just didn't feel like spending resources going back and forth with RealNetworks breaking and unbreaking the compatibility is anyone's guess.

We could see Apple doggedly trying to protect its control over all things iPod, but as RealNetworks and hackers around the world have shown, software security measures are made to be circumvented. If Microsoft is serious about making the 360 iPod-compatible, we're guessing they create workarounds for whatever protection schemes Apple can cook up. In the end, it's probably not worth the hassle or the resources for Apple to try and break the 360's compatibility when Microsoft only uses it as a selling point for the machine, and not an actual source of revenue.

If RealNetworks can get away with unofficially supporting Apple's iPod on songs it's selling for a profit, Microsoft can likely do the same to keep what is at best a nice feature of its new machine, but not something that's going to drive sales. Besides, Microsoft touting iPod compatibility is just free advertising for Apple, and doesn't exactly reflect that well on the numerous Microsoft-compatible rival MP3 players.

Bogus or not bogus?: We'll go out on a limb and say bogus, but Apple's not exactly the most predictable company around.

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Discussion

47 comments
surferbro
surferbro

I have an Ipod nano and a Xbox360. I personally am a apple fan... Everything they make is quality and legit. I personally would disagree with their descion if they decide to make a firmware that disables a consumer plus for those who own xbox360's. On the other hand Microsoft would cut Apple off..... For example Halo 2 is only going to be released on Windows Vista... THAT'S CRAP. What about MAC users!!! So in my opinion I would be upset with Apple yet understand. "ONCE YOU GO MAC YOU NEVER GO BACK"

jamil2nice
jamil2nice

i saw the guy at the Xbox 360 booth at Digital Life connect his i-Pod to the 360 so now im confused. and yes he did actually present it, and show how you can change the running game's music with that of the one from the i-pod

KBusch2004Champ
KBusch2004Champ

I got rid of my crappy ipod for a sony net walkman and it destroys everything ipod. better sound, battery life, and design IMHO.

umbrae
umbrae

Who cares. The IPOD is just a fad product anyway. The MP3 function will be worth it. Even more so for non IPOD users which will continue to use it long after Apple pulls the plug.

Father_Time89
Father_Time89

My thoughts are that is not bogus. Maybe this is just a rumor but I thought the 360 would be compatible with PSP (probably for transfering music or pictures) so it seems that the 360 reaaly wants to annoy its competetors (why else would they make it psps compatible, since I heard the rumor before the psp was released). Anyway Apple and Microsoft are on a huge Mac vs. Windows battle so Microsoft trying to annoy them isn't unexpected. Besides I heard Macs have btter security then windows so they can probably make it non-compatible with the 360.

ElHypno
ElHypno

I dont own an I-pod or an Xbox 360, but this should be a sign that things down at Microsoft may not be going down so well. This 360 launch is sounding more and more scary every second. Not as scary as those two guys I saw at Halo 2's midnight release. One of them was dressed like master chief and the other guy was one of those covenant grunts playing grab ass in line. I wouldent have been scared but they started getting all angry because they had been waiting in line for six hours and I walked through the back door of my favorite video game retailer. That and when Chief called the grunt, sugar buns.

curlymccluskey
curlymccluskey

i dont have a ipod so it doesnt effect me. i'll just go and listen to music on my psp.the 360 will suck when the ps3 comes out

Phil709
Phil709

my ipod is broken, so until it gets fixed, it doesnt matter to me.

daviddoel
daviddoel

I don't see why Apple would do that. Its something that benefits both companies.

jasonpwilson1
jasonpwilson1

"XBOX 360 Rocks!" PlayStaion3 is all ass air and a year too late :)

SilverArrows
SilverArrows

I already have an IPOD and definitly plan on getting the 360. Here is thing, if apple pushes a new firmware update, i'm not going to update my iPod, so whatever. As long as the iPod and the 360 work on day 1, i'm happy. Screw Apple for being such a$$holes. I paid $300 for my iPod and I should use it how I want, not how they tell me to. PS: I dont buy music through iTunes anyways, I just burn my own CDs *cough*cough*. So it doesn't affect me one bit.

terrabreak13
terrabreak13

It's actually free advertising for iPod since at every xbox360 demonstration they hook up an iPod to the 360. I think MS should have used Creative players instead in their demo since those are more likely 100% compatible plus they are partners with MS. They should have just let consumers discover that functionality by themselves like "wow I can hook up my iPod to this thing!". It's a great scenario for people who will buy the core bundle since they don't have a hard drive. They can get custom soundtracks without the Hard drive. Personally, I own a Creative Zen (not a big Apple fan) and thats how I plan to play my custom playlist on the 360.

funk-a-do
funk-a-do

i have bets that psp compatibility goes next $10 anyone

Silverwa
Silverwa

No, you mean apple sucks. fanboys...

jazast
jazast

want affect me any i dont plan on getting a 360

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

if i was apple, i would probably do the same thing. you don't want to be too good of friends with m$.

indigoAK200
indigoAK200

I want to see Apple and Microsoft go at each other. I wonder if Celebrity Death Match ever had Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Daedalus_G
Daedalus_G

From the Gamespot Q&A with J. Allard: [Apple CEO] Steve [Jobs] asked me for one when this thing comes out. "I want to get one of these things. It's pretty cool." And I was like, "You didn't give me much of a break on those 7,000 G5s we bought from you, you know. We'll ship as many as you want, full retail, baby." No, that's not true. Apple was a good partner with the development kit program. So, I don't think it's pro-consumer to do anything like that. I think it's a silly thing to fight over. I think Steve wont care to much. Plus the 360 is running on G5 processors. To block that structure would mean breaking apple computers. I think Apple will work along, its a win-win situation for them.

Polybren
Polybren

To drewmca, part of the issue here as (I understand it) lies in the way the iPod stores music on the ipod itself. If you've hooked an iPod up to a computer and sifted through the files stored on the iPod itself, you've probably noticed that the song files are renamed and grouped with other seemingly random files in a number of different, almost arbitrary directories. So while the iPod is still a USB storage device and the music files are almost certainly still playable as far as the Xbox 360 is concerned, the system has no way of knowing which file is which song except by opening the file and playing the song. From the news.com article, what Microsoft has done appears to be a bit of reverse engineering to decrypt a database file in the iPod and put the right track information with the right files in the iPod, so that users can actually sort through an organized listing of the files with the proper song, album, and artist names associated with them. If Apple uses a firmware update to change the way this directory associates track information with the specific music files, the Xbox 360 might not read any track information at all, or perhaps tag information to the wrong files. I'd be surprised if Apple could make the iPod completely incompatible with the Xbox 360, but I think if they were so inclined, they could certainly make it a hassle on users.

magicalclick
magicalclick

It will be really hard for Apple to do that if they want to. They can't change sold iPod on the fly to reject X360, unless there is some kind of weird online update. Also iPod can't tell any device it connects to, this is the nature of USB portable device. Unless iPod uses a special driver and requires PC to install that, Xbox360 or any other machine can connect to iPod.

Mindphaser
Mindphaser

Zeroroach is a fool. Without Microsoft I'd likely be homeless and penniless and I've never even worked for them. Think before you speak. You commie open sourcers make me sick.

Dr_Feelgood
Dr_Feelgood

Apple needs to stop living in their own world, and realize that the computing world is very open to other products and services. It is because of this reasoning that they lag so far behind Microsoft in the OS market. First, they should start to sell their OS for IBM PC compatible computers as well as give up their specialty line of home computers and make standard, premade IBM computers like Gateway or HP. Since they're switching to Intel anyways, making IBM clones would be much easier to do. Their cases can still look uber cool, just that inside would be a PC clone rather than a specialty Macantosh. Hell, they can even continue to sell PowerMacs based off their own special prioritory Mac format, but there is a PC market just waiting for them to take on Windows. Secondly, they can stop acting so protective with their iPod. Fortunately, Apple isn't stupid enough to make iPods only work with iTunes music, but considering how protective they are with it I wouldn't be too surprised if they wished that was how it worked. If Real wants to sell music that works with iPods, let them! A consumer will spend maybe $100 on downloaded music, but will spend $500 on your iPod. Both companies win. Finally, Apple needs to realize what they are selling is a MP3 player, not some personal tool that will work with what they want it to work with. If they wanted to keep that mindset, they should have kept it Mac only, but then all those people with iPods you see would use an iRiver or Creative. Love em or hate em, Microsoft has spent the past decade ensuring that your PC will run almost any piece of hardware or software you install on it, thus creating an open world of hardware and software. It looks like the Xbox 360 will have some of this and will allow you to copy any media files stored on a UNIVERSAL Serial Bus storage device (aka: USB). Special formats from individual companies doesn't work in the long run. People want to run anything and everything on their computer, DVD player, video game console, etc. Just look how well Sony had done with Beta, Minidiscs, ATRAC, and soon to be UMD and Blu-Ray.

littlestreakier
littlestreakier

i own a nano so i'm hoping this is false. it's be really annoying making burned cd's just so i can put songs on the 360, plus apple doesn't have anything to lose. it's not like people will stop buying ipods just cause they're compatible with the 360, if anything i agree with the other guy (sorry i can't remember ur sn) it'll only help. but apple is really stubborn tho so we'll see. and another thing apple already made ipods compatible with the microsoft windows os. so that has to show that they're smart enough to step up and realize that it was better for the company. also all u people that are like "don't give microsoft ur money blah blah blah" no one wants to hear it, keep that to urself. people will buy products if it's worth buying it for them.

clifftrapremove
clifftrapremove

Fantastic write up guys, its great that you guys are commenting on even the smallest rumors, you are listening to the community and doing high quality write ups that some of us have no clue about. Keep up the good work!

drewmca
drewmca

This is completely asinine as a rumor. Mostly because what is being talked about is pretty much impossible. The xbox treats devices like the iPod (and the PSP) as USB storage devices. These devices have songs on them, and the xbox360 reads them. The way it reads them is the same way that Windows does. So if Apple turns off compatibility, they turn off the ability to use an iPod on windows. There is absolutely no credibility to this rumor because there is no way that Apple could "turn off" 360 compatibility without also turning off windows compatibility, something I seriously doubt they will do. Even then, it will take some doing, since they'd have to make their interface mechanism completely unreadable. Doing that would also affect apple users, since they'd need to download the new firmware themselves as well if the machines start "talking" differently. The only thing Apple is doing is preventing the 360 from playing music from the iTunes store. They're holding that format pretty close to the vest, and even Windows won't play AAC/Fairplay tunes. But that's a different matter altogether. This is a completely different scenario then the supposedly "related" issue with RealNetworks. In short, this is near impossible to reasonably do, and is just speculation by someone with only enough information to be dangerous. So long as the iPod is recognized as a USB storage device by windows, the 360 will be able to read music from it. Do your homework, please, people.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

I don't own an Ipod either, but I agree with the opinion that Apple would be pretty stubborn to disable connections to the 360. Since they don't have a console, they're not really losing out on anything other than possible royalties, which in my opinion aren't really deserved anyway. Apple is just taking advantage of their near portable music monopoly. That said, if Sony were to pay Apple's royalty fees and make the PS3 officially Ipod compatible, it would make sense for them to try to lock MS out. Other than that, it would just be lame.

liquidcourage1
liquidcourage1

And here go the PS3 fanboys. Blah, blah, blah... but i'll own both... so you suck.

zeroroach
zeroroach

Screw M$. They arse-raped Sega (how else could you explain them entering the vg business? They never legit, as Officer Tenpenny would say). I'd make J Allard suffer a horrific and public disembowelment, if given the opportunity. (let the record state that I'm not a Sony or Nintendo fanboy, I dislike both of them equally. M$ just deserves to burn down like France)

Thraxen
Thraxen

Is it even possible? Won't the Xbox 360 see an iPod as a standard external USB 2.0 hard disk drive or flash memory device, just like Windows does? As long as the 360 supports the codecs and file formats (MP3, Wave, AIFF, AAC, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG, Photoshop, various flavors of QuickTime and MPEG), won't it be able to run the (unprotected) files on an iPod without help from Apple?

ArchieGates
ArchieGates

I'm not worried. If Apple tries some stupid stunt like that, I just won't update my iPod's firmware to the version that locks out the 360. My iPod works fine anyway - I have no need to upgrade the firmware.

colinjennison
colinjennison

Quoted these posts from above: --PlayStation3- what the **** the 360 sucks ass :) Posted 11/08/2005 9:34pm coolcool23 All I have to say is HAHA. The Ipod is a complete ripoff anyways. Anyone who owns one has not only paid money for a product inferior to other similar players (ahem!, the Creative Zen Xtra) but they have paid MORE money for it. Im glad that this may be falling through as it would be a meeting of the two largest corporations on earth and they are both trying to cram more down your throat so to speak. In retrospect though, if it is true, this is not really a big surprise. I mean, its Microsoft and Apple were talking about here, comon. They're like the two biggest competitors in the computer department right now, and it was a pretty big stretch to get them to work together, on a microsoft product, nontheless. Besides the xbox 360 is technically inferior to the ps3 anyways. Check out the comparison on gamespot's hardware page and you'll see the facts. No one should waste thier money by making Bill Gates even richer than he already is. (P.S.- Although i have to say, Perfect Dark Zero looks awesome!) Posted 11/08/2005 9:42pm No one should take anything "playstation3" has to say about the xbox 360 seriously. As for "coolcool": apple is definately not one of the two "largest corporations" and the ipod isn't a "ripoff" of anything really. Yes, it's just like any original "creative" or other brand mp3 player that came before it, but thats like saying any computer other than an IBM is a "cheap rip-off". As for what i think of the compatibility, it would be petty and childish and not very beneficial for Apple to make a firmware update that would make ipods incompatible with xbox 360s.

Dijita
Dijita

I really really really hope this is bogus. This was one feature that had me real excited about owning an Xbox 360. I essentially have all of my music on my iPod and hardly touch my CDs.

hush404
hush404

If Apple didn't want to do it from the first, Microsoft should of respected that and left things alone... instead Microsoft does what they do best! They gave the big ol F.U to the company who opposed their ideas. Now, Apple may be taking measures to counter with their own F.U??? Good on Apple!!!... if it turns out to be true.

coolcool23
coolcool23

All I have to say is HAHA. The Ipod is a complete ripoff anyways. Anyone who owns one has not only paid money for a product inferior to other similar players (ahem!, the Creative Zen Xtra) but they have paid MORE money for it. Im glad that this may be falling through as it would be a meeting of the two largest corporations on earth and they are both trying to cram more down your throat so to speak. In retrospect though, if it is true, this is not really a big surprise. I mean, its Microsoft and Apple were talking about here, comon. They're like the two biggest competitors in the computer department right now, and it was a pretty big stretch to get them to work together, on a microsoft product, nontheless. Besides the xbox 360 is technically inferior to the ps3 anyways. Check out the comparison on gamespot's hardware page and you'll see the facts. No one should waste thier money by making Bill Gates even richer than he already is. (P.S.- Although i have to say, Perfect Dark Zero looks awesome!)

Aracno1D
Aracno1D

lol... an alliance between Apple and Microsoft? Bogus.

beatman
beatman

It does not seem like that would smart on their part because they could lose out on an opportunity to capitolize off a new technology compatibility to drive the sales of their ipod. Think about it... cross marketing that says fully compatible with the xbox 360. People who have an xbox 360 may buy one just because it adds more functionality to their 360. I dont believe that the executive at apple did not think of it... I did and I am just a dumb consumer :) It is most likely bogus!

anthony_basic
anthony_basic

Yea I wish I could afford an Ipod. I dont even know which one to chosefrom. Hopefully its a bogus. Its a big + for casual consumers.

VScalar
VScalar

I'm not sure how Apple could gain from going after MS on this one. They should play to MS in the console market where MS could use the help and leverage that for the PC field. Either that or benign neglect: SONY should be Apple's biggest fear.

rctyke
rctyke

that doesn't bother me , but what about the PSP? I can make some movies much easier.

davwex
davwex

Axeman. Why post then.

Axxeman
Axxeman

Won't affect me none, I don't own a iPod.

Donkeljohn
Donkeljohn

Ouch. So much for thinking of the consumer. Hopefully this IS bogus.

Polybren
Polybren

Source: A News.com story from late last week.

The official story: Apple does not comment about future products.

What we heard: According to the News.com story, Microsoft designed the Xbox 360's compatibility with the phenomenally successful portable music player without the support or consent of the gadget's maker, Apple. Xbox digital-entertainment executive producer Jeff Henshaw is quoted in the article as saying that Microsoft approached Apple to make the two pieces of geek kit officially compatible, but Apple balked. "So we went in and built all of the support we could," Henshaw then said.

That limited support means that music ripped to an iPod off of a user's own CD will be 360-compatible, but songs purchased through Apple's iTunes software will not work on a 360 due to the software's antipiracy measures. But because the Xbox 360 isn't officially compatible with the iPod, what compatibility remains could potentially be removed with an iPod firmware update if Apple so chooses.

On the one hand, it seems petty to cut out the limited Xbox 360 compatibility that lets users move only music burned from their own CDs to the Xbox 360 (using the iPod essentially as a handy way to get it from point A to point B) when Apple doesn't have a direct stake in the console wars. On the other hand, seeing as how the company recently started charging royalties to companies who make accessories that use the iPod's dock connector, it would make sense to send the message that unofficial iPod compatibility is frowned upon, and can be undermined with a simple software update.

Apple has also shown willingness in the past to protect its golden goose from the perceived scourge of unofficial compatibility. When RealNetworks started selling (unofficial) iPod-compatible digital music through its Rhapsody online music store last year, Apple updated its software to break that compatibility. RealNetworks later circumvented that and once again offers iPod-compatible downloads. Whether Apple couldn't figure out a way to once again lock out Rhapsody-downloaded songs without affecting the rest of a user's music, or if it just didn't feel like spending resources going back and forth with RealNetworks breaking and unbreaking the compatibility is anyone's guess.

We could see Apple doggedly trying to protect its control over all things iPod, but as RealNetworks and hackers around the world have shown, software security measures are made to be circumvented. If Microsoft is serious about making the 360 iPod-compatible, we're guessing they create workarounds for whatever protection schemes Apple can cook up. In the end, it's probably not worth the hassle or the resources for Apple to try and break the 360's compatibility when Microsoft only uses it as a selling point for the machine, and not an actual source of revenue.

If RealNetworks can get away with unofficially supporting Apple's iPod on songs it's selling for a profit, Microsoft can likely do the same to keep what is at best a nice feature of its new machine, but not something that's going to drive sales. Besides, Microsoft touting iPod compatibility is just free advertising for Apple, and doesn't exactly reflect that well on the numerous Microsoft-compatible rival MP3 players.

Bogus or not bogus?: We'll go out on a limb and say bogus, but Apple's not exactly the most predictable company around.