Sometimes there’s no need to reinvent what your enemy has done. That seems to be the thinking that Palm embraced as it announced today that the Palm Pre cell phone will be able to sync with Apple iTunes content.
Although the iPhone is Public Enemy No. 1 for the Pre, Palm executive chairman Jon Rubenstein said at the AllThingsD conference today that the Pre can access media content in iTunes as well as photos that are stored in Apple’s iPhoto application. The Pre can play MP3-based songs in iTunes, but it can’t do so with the digital-rights-management restricted Apple content.
Everyone smells an Apple lawsuit on this new development. Rubenstein, after all, is a former Apple executive as are many of the Palm Pre’s designers. But Apple has to tread carefully, since, in the same discussion, Elevation Partners managing director Roger McNamee — a major Palm investor — called Apple a monopolist.
In another piece of news, Verizon Wireless chief executive Lowell McAdam said his company plans to start selling the Pre in about six months. The Pre will debut on June 6 for $199, after rebates. That’s just two days before Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, where more iPhone news is expected.
In a demo, Palm showed off some new features for the Pre. You can download MP3-based songs directly from Amazon.com, over the air, to the device. You can also plug it into the universal serial bus of a PC and sync it with your media or charge it. Palm’s equivalent to the Apple AppStore is the Web App Catalog, which will have a dozen apps when it launches next week. Apple has more than 49,000 apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. You can search for things on the Pre and the device will prompt you if you want the same search on Twitter or Google.
Rubenstein said developers will find it easy to create apps for the Pre and that hundreds of developers currently have the software development kit (SDK), or tools to make apps. As for an expected shortage, Rubenstein said production is in full gear but high demand may result in shortages.