Palm released webOS 1.1.0 for its Palm Pre devices today. Normally, this would elicit a collective "that's nice" from TUAW, but what makes this interesting is that according to the release notes, the update "resolves an issue preventing media sync from working with latest version of iTunes (8.2.1)."
The "issue," of course, is none other than last week's borking by Apple of the Palm Pre's ability to sync with iTunes. As you may recall, in order to get around Apple's restrictions and sync with iTunes -- which nowadays is meant exclusively for use with Apple products, although in the past there was an API for third-party MP3 players to sync with it -- the Palm was programmed, in effect, to impersonate an iPod.
Apple was not amused. Enter iTunes 8.2.1, which "fixed" the problem. Palm was not amused. Out came webOS 1.1.0 which claimed to have "re-fixed" the problem while Palm exhibited no small measure of evil glee. In fact, on their very own blog, Palm describes the return of iTunes sync as "one more thing." Oh, Palm. Don't you know that "one more thing" fails to impress unless you're hiding a new MacBook Pro or iPhone behind your back?
Say what you want about Apple's notoriously closed, exclusive systems, but I have to admit I feel a little less than sympathetic for Palm right about now. After all, it's not like Palm doesn't have the resources to design a robust, easy-to-use media syncing system
and music player that would work with the Pre. It just doesn't want to. It would rather poach the development Apple put into its own software product, and then market iTunes compatibility as a feature of the Pre, as if it had licensed that function from Apple. Can it do that? Sure. But Apple can continue to close any loopholes Palm finds. In other words, Palm hinges any marketing of the Palm Pre device on its iTunes compatibility at its peril. I don't think it's doing its customers any favors by promising a feature it's not certain it can deliver going forward.
If I'm reading the tea leaves correctly, look for a nice iTunes "update" in the next couple of days. You know. To "fix" any issues with "verification of Apple devices."
No matter what, it's shaping up to be a very entertaining game of cat-and-mouse. Popcorn, anybody?