Palm's latest webOS update again syncs with iTunes, despite Apple's repeated attempts to prevent its rival's smartphones from using its popular media software. In a somewhat less controversial move, webOS 1.2.1 also fixes an issue with Microsoft Exchange.
Specifically, the webOS 1.2.1 update resolves a glitch that prevented Microsoft Exchange 2007 users from fully synchronizing with their e-mail account for e-mail, contacts, calendar and tasks.
But far more cheekily, Palm decided that the update will also allow its devices-which include the high-profile Palm Pre and the soon-to-be released the Palm Pixi-to sync with iTunes. Repeatedly, Apple has updated iTunes to deny other smartphones the ability to run the program, and repeatedly, Palm has designed workarounds.
The Palm Pre's ability to sync was one of the features used by Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein to build buzz for the device ahead of its June 6 launch. "We designed Palm Media Sync to be an easy and elegant way for you to take the content you own and put it on the Pre," he said in a May 28 press release.
However, Apple has been aggressive about shutting down the feature, forcing Pre owners to either use an alternative music player, an older version of iTunes or a USB cable to transfer music. During a Jan. 21 earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook suggested that his company "will not stand for having our IP [intellectual property] ripped off, and we'll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal."
While Palm aimed the Pre at least partially at the enterprise market, its holiday offering, the Palm Pixi, will have a distinctly consumer bent: In addition to integrating services such as Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn, the device also features limited-edition back covers designed by artists such as Jeremy Fish and Michelle White.
But Palm may be facing a drawn-out battle in gaining mobile-device market share. Although the Palm webOS blog announced on June 30 that Palm had sold an estimated 370,000 Pre smartphones in its first few weeks of release, with another 15,000 coming off the assembly line daily, its current sales numbers seem to indicate that, while successful, the device will not prove an iPhone killer.
Palm reported that it shipped 823,000 smartphones in the fiscal first quarter, but declined to break out how many of those devices were the Palm Pre. The company, originally a pioneer in the handheld device space, lost ground over the years to competitors such as Apple and Research In Motion, but is betting that webOS-based devices such as the Pre will bring it back to profitability.