When Steve Jobs was detailing the wonders of iTunes 9 at yesterday’s Apple music event, there was a One More Thing he didn’t mention: The new version of the software once again blocks Palm’s Pre from making like an iPod and syncing music and video directly with iTunes. This is the second time that an iTunes update has foiled the Pre. (Palm responded to the first attempt by using a workaround to regain access to iTunes.) And even if Palm has another kludge up its sleeve, it should bring this saga to an end.
I say that with regret, because I was rooting for Palm: iTunes sync is a nifty feature, and I wish that Apple looked at non-Apple phones syncing with iTunes not as an intrusion, but as an opportunity to sell more music. (If it did, it might actively court other phone manufacturers such as Palm.) But we now know that Apple won’t even take a laissez-faire approach here–it’ll boot the Pre out again and again.
Which means that it’s silly for Palm to promote the Pre’s Media Sync feature as it stands as a reason to buy the phone–even in a best-case scenario, the feature is doomed to an unhappy, tentative future.
The solution seems simple to me: Rather than hacking iTunes to provide direct syncing, Palm should use a bit of PC/OS X middleware to do the job. Lots of products do this without controversy, and Palm can probably license the technology if it needs to. In theory, it’s not as elegant a solution as direct syncing, but it works. And there’s absolutely nothing elegant about the cat-and-mouse game that Media Sync has been playing with Apple to date.