One of the nicest things about having an iPod or iPhone is the easy syncing with iTunes, especially for Mac users. In fact, it’s such a perk, that users are constantly looking for ways to get their BlackBerry and other devices to sync as well. How Palm’s upcoming Pre phone (which could be one of the most hyped in history) will stack up against the iPhone still isn’t perfectly clear, but as of today, we know one thing for sure: It will sync with iTunes seamlessly on a Mac.
And I don’t use the term “seamlessly” lightly. According to Fortune’s Apple 2.0 blog, once you plug your Pre into your Mac, iTunes will treat it just like an iPhone or an iPod, with the exception that it won’t work with Apple’s older, DRM-protected tracks. That’s as good a reason as any to finally get around to upgrading your tracks to “Pro,” though it won’t ease the sting of having to pay again for music you already bought.
The news comes direct from a Palm PR representative, who mentioned iTunes syncing in passing at Comdex in January. Confirmation has since come from many sources, since, as Apple 2.0 points out, there’s no shortage of Pre devices being tested live in the wild.
Unlike previous solutions for other Palm and BlackBerry devices, you won’t need any third-party software to encourage iTunes to recognize your Pre. The necessary code is apparently built right into the device’s firmware. As Apple 2.0 rightly points out, that isn’t surprising, considering the high percentage of ex-Cupertino employees the Pre has on its development team.
Apple is already on the defensive with Palm over the multi-touch capabilities of its new WebOS handset. During the last two quarterly financial results conference calls, Apple execs have suggested that once the Pre comes to market, if it looks like any of Apple’s multi-touch technology was purloined for its design, there will be legal action. Whether or not the Palm smartphone’s ability to sync with iTunes out of the box might also land the two companies in court isn’t clear, but at the very least, you can bet that future iterations of iTunes and/or OS X will try to restore the iPhone/iPod only limitation.
The Pre launches on June 6 (two days before the WWDC keynote) and will retail for $200 with a contract subsidy. Can’t wait to see the sparks fly, but I hope it doesn’t result in a nasty, distracting legal battle that impedes the exciting and innovative work both players are doing in the smartphone industry.