updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu May 28, 2009
Palm Pre and iTunes iPhoto
Palm at the D7 event today confirmed that the Pre and likely other webOS phones will sync with Apple software. Running a live demo on stage, Palm's Paul Cousino showed the Pre being recognized in iTunes as a "device" that could sync all but FairPlay-protected music as though it were an iPod. The feature works on both Macs and Windows PCs; on Macs, it can also pull photos from iPhoto and sync those through iTunes.
Other features that have rarely been discussed have also been shown at the gathering, including an ability to search Twitter through the same universal search used for content on the Pre and for Google searches. However, the App Catalog for third-party software is only expected to have about 12 programs when the Pre goes on sale June 6th.
The demo also gave Palm board chairman Jon Rubinstein to explain the Apple influence on the company and the Pre in particular. Formerly one of the primary executives behind the iPod, Rubinstein contended that his experience at Apple was essential and that it has informed much of the company's revived approach to design.
"I worked with Steve for many years and learned a tremendous amount from him, the value of user experience and design -- taste," he said. "I also learned the idea of great marketing... on the engineering side, I helped created the engineering culture at Apple so obviously, the engineering culture at Palm bears some similarities to it."
He wouldn't address the possibility of legal ramifications from integrating the Pre with Apple software but did acknowledge that Apple, as well as BlackBerry designer RIM, were the primary competitors. Elevation Partners co-founder and Palm supporter Roger McNamee also accused Apple of being monopolist and argued it isn't likely to break Palm sync on purpose. iTunes sync by itself recognizes Apple's "market dominance" in online music, and customers can't be forced to use particular devices for their music, he said.
To underscore its competitive stance, Palm preceded its D7 appearance with a video with McNamee and Rubinstein claiming that the Pre "eats iPhones for breakfast."