In order to compete with the iPhone, you not only have to have a multi-touch interface and a slew of apps, you also have to offer the music and media that the iPhone provides thanks to its ability to sync with iTunes. For Google's Android mobile OS, the music comes courtesy of Amazon's MP3 Store which is preloaded on G1 phones. But more recently, Palm seemingly trumped Android when they revealed how their new Pre smartphone would bring music to the device: it pretends to be an iPod. Apple surely couldn't have been happy about that news and today, they're letting the world know. The Cupertino-based company has just issued a thinly veiled threat to owners of "unsupported third-party digital media players," stating that the players may not work with newer versions of iTunes. Yep, Palm Pre, they're looking at you.
Surprisingly, Apple hasn't yet sued Palm over the technology used to trick the PC into thinking its an iPod and syncing it accordingly. Instead, it sounds like they just plan to break that functionality by releasing a new version of the iTunes software.
According to a post on Apple's website, the company is now claiming - for the record - that they will not guarantee other devices will sync with the iTunes software nor will they support those devices.
Here's how the post reads:
Apple designs the hardware and software to provide seamless 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. 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.
That sounds like a definite slap in the face to the Pre who may soon see one of their main selling points disappear with a simple update to the iTunes software.
Still, Apple has to be careful not to implement the update in a such way that makes it appear that they've done so just to break the Pre's syncing ability...that would reek of anti-competitiveness and could get them in trouble with the U.S. Department of Justice. However, we know Apple is filled with enough smart people that they could surely think of a way to break it without making it look like they broke it on purpose . The question is, will they really do something that under-handed and sneaky? Or do they just want to create a climate of fear by implying that you can't trust the Pre to always work?
Either way, it doesn't look like good news for Palm.