Could a healthy smartphone rivalry turn into all-out legal war between Palm and Apple? The Palm Pre has been found to sync effortlessly with Apple's flagship software iTunes by tricking the software into thinking it's an iPod.
The Pre is due for release on June 6th, and Apple is widely expected to release the next generation of its iPhone later this summer. Apple watchers are waiting to see what response, if any, the company will make to the revelation concerning the Pre's iTunes syncing capabilities.
Although the Pre will not sync DRM-protected (digital rights management) purchases from the iTunes store, it will sync other music and photos from iPhoto.
The Palm USB interface uses Apple's Vendor Id and the Product Id for a specific iPod model when communicating with iTunes. Apple could easily foil the sync functionality if Palm is found using undocumented APIs to make this work.Palm's webOS operating system is designed for seamless Internet connectivity. The device has a slide out keyboard and a touch screen interface capable of swipes, pinches, and other gestures similar to the iPhone.
Apple was recently awarded a far-reaching patent titled "Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics." The patent may be the first step in a legal battle between Apple and Palm over the Pre.
Palm stock recently went up after news that the Pre would only be exclusive to Sprint for six months, making it likely that other carriers such as AT&T and Verizon would offer the device on their networks.
The Palm Pre will compete with Apple's iPhone, the Blackberry Storm, and T-Mobile's G1. Sprint is expecting shortages of the device as consumer demand initially will outpace supply.