Palm gets friendly with Pre hackers

That's right, a group of hackers wants to stay on good terms with the company that makes the device they're hacking

Palm appears to be giving tacit approval to groups trying to hack the Palm Pre and Palm's new handset operating system, WebOS.   The Pre Dev Wiki says it received a note from Palm warning the hackers not to try to unlock the Pre's tethering ability during the handset's exclusivity period with Sprint. Tethering lets your mobile device double as a modem for wireless Internet access.

Palm apparently said Sprint could force the Pre maker to take legal action against the Pre Dev Wiki if tethered Pre devices start popping up on Sprint's Now Network. Sprint allows several tethered phones under its "Phone As Modem" plan, but the Pre is not one of them.

It's no surprise that Sprint would want to protect its bandwidth by controlling how many devices can access its Internet connectivity, but what is surprising is the reaction from the hackers.

In response to Palm's takedown request, the Pre Dev Wiki has removed any references to Pre tethering from its forums, because the group says it wants "to retain a good relationship with Palm." That's right, a group of hackers wants to stay on good terms with the company that makes the device they're hacking. What's more, Palm's friendly, don't-make-us-sue-you nudge suggests the company is content to let the hackers tinker away.

Apple tells a different story

Apple, on the other hand, has a very different "relationship" with the iPhone Dev Team, a group of hackers dedicated to hacking the iPhone and iPod Touch. The Dev Team is currently playing a game of cat-and-mouse with Apple over the Dev Team's software-based jailbreak for the iPhone 3G, YellowSn0w.

Official statements have been scarce, but Apple's actions make it clear the company is not a fan of jailbreaking. A recent example is Cupertino's court battle with the Electronic Frontier Foundation over the EFF's proposal to legalize iPhone jailbreaking. The reason Apple wants to maintain control over the iPhone is clear. The iPhone and the iPhone App Store have become a major revenue stream for Apple, and Cupertino is wary of competing with rogue App Stores like Cydia.

But despite its attempts to stop jailbreaking, Apple appears to also embrace its hacking community in a limited fashion. If you take a trip around iTunes' international stores, you'll notice iPhone App Stores in many countries where Apple has no official iPhone carrier. I haven't tested any of these App Stores to see if they actually sell the programs they advertise, but judging by the customer reviews these international outlets work just fine.

Palm's hacker love

Oddly enough, Palm's hands-off approach may be a reaction to the frenzy and enthusiasm surrounding attempts to hack the original iPhone. Those early iPhone hacking experiments ended up with reports of unlocked iPhones being rendered useless -- bricked -- from Apple system updates. But hacked iPhones also helped Apple get a sense of the device's popularity when iPhones started popping up all over the world.

The End of the Hacking Road?

While Palm's attitude may be good news for hackers, I can't help but feel a twinge of remorse over this news. If Palm and its Pre hackers are developing a rapport, what does this mean for the rest of the smartphone jailbreaking revolution? Will Palm's success push other handset makers to pour out some hacker love? Would Apple be one of them? Just imagine a world where the iPhone is free and open, and the Dev Team feels silly being cloaked in mystery behind their pineapple-style avatars. Oh, the horror.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Palm Pre

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?