New development in the ongoing saga of the Palm Pre’s Media Sync feature, which has let Pre owners sync directly with iTunes by tricking iTunes into thinking the Pre is an iPod: Palm’s attempt to get the USB Implementers’ Forum to intervene has failed. All Things Digital’s John Paczkowski is reporting that the USB-IF has told Palm that the Pre’s masquerade seems to violate the organization’s policy, which is that a manufacturer can only use the USB IDs it’s been assigned. (Palm has been using one assigned to Apple.)
This is not a startling development: I woulda put ten-to-one odds on it happening all along. The Pre has pretty much been using somebody else’s driver’s license to get into a bar–or, if you prefer, somebody else’s invitation to get into a party.
What’s Palm’s next move? I keep thinking that it’s got no options left but to surrender, but who knows? I do notice that the Palm site still touts Media Sync:
Here’s the footnote:
No matter how you slice it, this is misleading and out of date: We already know that iTunes 9 breaks Media Sync, so whether or not Palm “guarantees” compatibility is irrelevant. And iTunes 9 isn’t a future version, it’s the current one. I guess “Plus, use the Palm media sync feature to transfer your DRM-free iTunes music, video, and photos to your Pre…as long as you’re using an old cersion of iTunes” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I wanted Palm to win this fight, and I think everyone, including Apple, would win if iTunes had some level of built-in support for non-Apple devices. But it’s surely time for Palm to either eliminate references to media sync as a selling point or introduce a Media Sync 2.0 that uses a bit of middleware to do the syncing, a technique which works just fine. If I’d bought a Pre in part because Palm told me I’d be able to sync with iTunes, I know I’d vote for the latter option…
[UPDATE: PreCentral is reporting that an upcoming WebOS update will re-re-enable Media Sync, and that Palm wants the cat-and-mouse game to continue indefinitely. Doesn’t sound like much fun for anyone involved if it involves Media Sync breaking then working then breaking then working ad infinitum…)