Apple May End Palm Pre's iTunes Sync

While Palm Pre owners can currently sync up with Apple's iTunes media player, an announcement from Apple suggests that capability may end.

The Palm Pre touch-screen smartphone that debuted earlier this month had been widely touted to be a strong Apple iPhone contender. However, the Pre's ability to automatically sync up with Apple's iTunes digital media player may not last for long. On Tuesday Apple posted a notice on its Website that unsupported third-party digital media players are not guaranteed everlasting synchronicity with the popular media player.

Apple's post states the company designs the hardware and software to provide integration of the iPhone and iPod with iTunes, the iTunes Store and tens of thousands of apps on the App Store. "Apple is aware that some third-parties claim that their digital media players are able to sync with Apple software," the company posted. "However, Apple does not provide support for, or test for compatibility with, non-Apple digital media players and, because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple's iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players."

What this means is that Apple could be sending a message to Pre (or other third party) owners that the ability to seamlessly sync up with iTunes could soon become a distant memory. Apple has made these sorts of statements before, issuing a warning in September 2007 to those who had "jailbroken" or unlocked their iPhones. The advisory, which noted future firmware updates to the iPhone could render unlocked iPhone inoperable, became a reality a week later with iPhone Update 1.1.1.

According to Apple specialist TechSuperpowers' president and founder Michael Oh, Apple is likely to do what it did in September 2007. "From Apple's standpoint, chances are they will put out an update; this announcement is obviously meant to soak up any backlash from Pre owners," he said. "Apple's not going to use this as a way to turn around their stance on third-party devices--it would be a dangerous game to play with the Palm in particular."

Oh said Apple's considerable stable of talented engineers is going to figure out soon (if they haven't already) how Palm has been able to sync up with iTunes directly. "Apple has shown in the past year or two they're moving toward this "iTunes Plus" model where you buy MP3s and not AAC files-that's been their concession to those who have criticized Apple's proprietary dependency," he said. "That continues to be their stance, so I don't really see their changing their view because the Palm Pre has come out."