Palm has announced that the Pre will support iTunes, faking the software into thinking a genuine iPod is attached. When I first heard this I assumed Apple would sue to have this stopped and even start tweaking the iTunes software to block connections with the Pre. Now some leading analysts think Apple may just leave Palm alone and let the syncing continue.A former engineer at Apple now works for Palm and has been heading up the Pre team according to Walt Mossberg
. This engineer figured out how to make iTunes think it was talking to an iPhone or iPod so you could sync your music library to it. This saved an incredible amount of work for Palm and added a key feature - the ability to use the device as an MP3 player. By syncing with your computer, you can do all of your playlist management there, and purchase and download songs using your PC's high speed connection. Without this ability, it would involve the user dragging over MP3 files through some sort of drag-and-drop interface, which is a pain to say the least. The only key feature missing from what Palm has done is you cannot play DRM encrypted files. iTunes now gives you the ability to unlock all of your DRM'd files for 30 cents a song, and of course any CD's that you own and are ripping shouldn't be encrypted either.
I would have thought Apple would have thrown a fit over this. They have invested considerable time, energy and money into the iTunes store and to have a competitor reverse engineer the code so they can use it for free with their devices smacks me as wrong. However, Henry Blodget notes that analysts are now thinking Apple will just leave Palm alone on this issue. Could it be that Apple knows it cannot dominate the MP3 market the way it has forever and it thinking it is better to lose a device sale and still get the revenue from media purchases rather than lose them both? Blodget seems to think it is that Apple doesn't consider Palm worth the legal fees. "This will leave the Pre and Palm to bomb on their own. Palm investor Roger McNamee should dump the stock now, while he still can."
I wonder what Apple would do if RIM or Microsoft implemented the same hacks on their devices?