Palm Strikes Back At Apple Over iTunes
"That's right -- you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1)," wrote John Traynor, Palm's vice president for business products, on the Official Palm Blog. The post mainly highlights new features for business users such as improvements to Exchange ActiveSync. But that's simply Palm burying the lead.
Apple had warned that the iTunes 8.2.1. update for the iPhone 3.0 software would not provide syncing capability for non-Apple media players. That move took aim at the Pre, which until then had been providing customers with the ability to get iTunes without having to buy the rival iPhone.
While specific numbers on Pre sales are hard to come by, both Palm and wireless partner Sprint have been pleased with results since the much-hyped smartphone was released in June. Edward Snyder, a wireless industry analyst with Charter Equity Research, last month estimated that 300,000 Pre units had been sold so far, and forecast that Palm will ship 1 million in its first full quarter of production.
Needless to say, Apple sees no reason to help Palm potentially sell more phones by making the Pre an iTunes-friendly device. The company may have assumed that Palm was backing down last week when it told customers that they could still transfer music through a USB connection or older iTunes software.
Now the question is how Apple will respond in this high-tech war of nerves. "My guess is that a technical step of some sort is most likely," suggested Jeremy Horwitz, editor in chief of iLounge, a blog focued on all things iPhone and iPod. "It's obvious that Palm's engineers are tweaking Apple in a very deliberate and provocative way, and it's unclear whether this is being done with some endgame in mind, or merely to continue to generate press for the Pre."
He added that legal action by Apple was unlikely because of the potential public relations and antitrust-related pitfalls it would involve. That doesn't mean Apple would not at least threaten litigation. In an unrelated matter, Microsoft recently changed one of the ads in its "Laptop Hunters" campaign to reflect lower pricing on Mac notebooks after hearing from Apple's lawyers.