How (and Why) the Palm Pre Syncs Directly With iTunesS

"DVD Jon" Johansen, a guy who knows a thing or five about iTunes syncing, breaks down how the Pre must pull it off: by reporting itself as an iPod. It's brazen, and possibly brilliant.

Yesterday at AllThingsD, we saw a sync demo in which iTunes reported the Pre as an iPod. Johansen says the process behind this isn't that complicated—the Pre just has to assume an iPod Vendor ID, imitate its file structure and spoof an iPod information file for iTunes—but that it is inherently risky, since Apple could quite easily update iTunes to recognize mendacious Pres and shut the capability off altogether, which is why companies like RIM have just settled on good-enough workarounds instead of patching straight into iTunes.

But there's no way Palm isn't anticipating a standoff over iTunes sync; in fact, they're probably eagerly waiting for it. The public is well and truly excited about the Pre, and Palm, which just one year was regarded as a sprawling, aging, doomed industry giant, is now an underdog. They also have a product which is perceived as the most direct threat to the iPhone yet.

Apple could conceivably shut the Pre out of iTunes even before launch, and they're well within their rights to do so. But to the public, they'd look like dicks—anti-competitive dicks, even. For Palm, it's win-win: Either their phone syncs with one of the most popular music managing apps on the planet, or they've take a little bite out of their competitor's reputation. Pretty clever, unless Palm's lawyers overlooked something huge. [Jon Johansen via MacRumors]