Okay, Who Gave Palm Pre Keys to the iTunes Sync Kingdom?!


Fortune scoop'let'ed the story: the Palm Pre syncs with iTunes. No, not like a dumb USB disk. Not even like a 3rd party-enabled BlackBerry on the PC. Somehow, when Jon Rubinstein joined Palm, someone at Apple forgot to frisk him for iTunes keys.

Our friends over at PreCentral.net, of course, are all over this:

If the Pre does indeed just show up as a standard device on iTunes, it would be big news -- but it wouldn't be unprecedented.  Apple has allowed other OEMs to license the necessary APIs to talk directly to iTunes so they can show up as a device.  If you take a gander at the list of compatible players on Apple's support site, you'll see that Rio players, Nomad Players, and others will all work with iTunes directly (not to mention various Motorola phones).

Still, the level of integration purportedly available to the Pre makes us feel more than a little violated. Did Apple really license them that deep a hook into the system? Given the existence of one Steven P. Jobs, we somehow doubt that. But if not, which 3rd party hook did Palm embed, is it all nice and legal, and how -- if at all -- will Apple react?

We know! At WWDC Phil Schiller will announce -- iPhone compatibility with Palm Desktop!!


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Okay, Who Gave Palm Pre Keys to the iTunes Sync Kingdom?!


I'm sure itunes will update soon. I guess the pre isn't copying apple at all? Amazon mp3 store not quite good enough for iphone 2?

all Apple has to do is change the secret handshake to require a device to send a trademark name, say "iTunes", then any un-authorized device is violating copyright laws. I bet Apple already does this.

That's vewy vewy nice of Apple to let te competition use their home. I hope they yhought about it long and har though, if it's gonna cause them any loss of rofit or something

If Palm reverse-engineered the sync protocol, they would not be violating copyright, but perhaps the DMCA. Palm would likely claim an allowable exemption for the purposes of interoperability, which Apple would no doubt oppose. It would be an entertaining slap-fight, but not one either company stands to "win" much.
Considering that Apple licenses the iTunes device plugin APIs openly to manufacturers, it seems far more likely that Palm purchased a license, just like any other OEM. Such a license requires Palm to sign an NDA, so, if we ever hear anything more about this, it would be from Apple -- either their lawyers or their supported device page.

fassy, if Palm Pre has the word "iTunes" in it without written conle, that is a trademark infringement. this is a legal issue, not an engineering issue. any engineer can reverse engineer a solution (i.e. virus creators).

If Apple does license the APIs to other companies there would likely be anti-trust issues with denying a similar license to Palm.

Why on earth does it trouble you the slightest that Apple has licensed the iTunes API to Palm? Even for those of you that actually have Apple stock it should be a no-brainer to realize that Apple has everything to win and very little to loose.
It is really no different from Apple licensing Active Sync.

Nope. Trademark infringement requires publication in an open venue to even to rise to the level of consideration . A "secret handshake" as you put it, is by definition not published.