Pre-empted: Apple Nixes iTunes Syncing for the Palm Pre

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Last month, Apple warned owners that it does not test iTunes’ ability to sync with third party media players, and that the capability could break at any time. For Palm Pre owners, that day has come: iTunes 8.2.1 no longer treats the Pre as if it were just another iPod, and the software will no longer synchronize media with the device.

Pre owners who wish to continue syncing their devices with iTunes have a few options. One, of course, is simply not to upgrade to iTunes 8.2.1 or newer, although eventually Apple will likely add features to iTunes that will make the decision to stick with an older version of iTunes difficult. Users can also opt for third-party solutions, including Salling Media Sync (free for basic use), or fully commercial solutions like The Missing Sync for Palm Pre from Mark/Space.

Apple’s decision to deliberately bar synchronization with third-party media players will no doubt re-ignite controversy about the company’s closed iPod/iPhone ecosystem isn’t a good thing: it’s one thing not to support syncing, but quite another to deliberately disable it when it already exists. Apple has historically taken a hard line with enabling non-Apple devices to interact with iTunes or the iTunes Store. Ostensibly, Apple does not want to be on the hook for supporting third party products. If a third-party device fails to interoperate correctly with iTunes, consumers will likely lay the blame at Apple’s feet, rather than the device maker; in that since, sub-par third party players damage Apple’s business. But the majority of Apple’s revenue from the iPhone/iPod business comes from hardware sales, not the sale of music, video, or applications: letting third party devices tap into Apple’s content offerings has a direct impact on the company’s finances.

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