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Apple Won’t Sue Palm Over iTunes Syncing–There’s No Need

When talking about Palm Pre’s ability to sync with iTunes in a recent post, I intimated legal action could follow–a thought that was echoed elsewhere on the ‘net. But now some legal thinking suggests Apple won’t do anything. Because it doesn’t have to.

When talking about Palm Pre’s ability to sync with iTunes in a recent post, I intimated legal action could follow–a thought that was echoed elsewhere on the ‘net. But now some legal thinking suggests Apple won’t do anything. Because it doesn’t have to.

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Apple vs. Palm

What Palm appears to have done is given the Pre the ability to spoof iTunes into thinking it’s actually an iPod, via some clever USB coding. iTunes has always had the ability to connect and sync other media devices, but no-one’s gone as far as Palm with this tech coupling. It’s a bold move, and it gives Palm a nice bit of PR since it’s effectively piggybacking on its hugely successful competitor.

It’s that move, however, that had people wondering if Apple would move to close the link with an iTunes code update and possibly sue Palm for attempting the hack. Now, new thinking among analysts has suggested that Apple probably won’t do anything at all. Leading the charge is Tim Bajarin, president of tech consultancy Creative Strategies: He believes Apple will just sit tight, while admitting that “there are other hacks out there” to do the same, and that Palm just “did a more elegant link to it.”

Why wouldn’t Apple take action? The answer is pretty simple: iTunes is already the number one music retail venture in the U.S., and it only looks to be consolidating its position there and across the globe. In fact there have been moves to make it easier for Apple to sell MP3s in Europe, and suggestions that Apple will expand its iTunes movie store to Europe this year. With such a dominant position, Apple can probably afford to do whatever the heck it likes about Palm…which includes completely ignoring it, in flea-on-giant’s back style. That, after all, avoids some uncomfortable PR.

And some of the initial stories about the Pre suggest it might not be all that much of a threat to the iPhone’s crown anyway. BoyGeniusReport even went as far as saying the low build quality makes it “feel a little cheap”. And Silicon Alley Insider says, “Palm will probably sell a bunch of Pres initially–the product has a good buzz” but that the real “cool kids” are building smartphone futures around the iPhone and BlackBerry range.

[MarketWatch via Silicon Alley Insider]

Related: Palm’s Pre Syncs With iTunes, but Apple May Squash the Link
Palm Pre Vs Rumored iPhone 2009: Features Comparison
Palm Pre Challenges iPhone to a Duel On June 6–Who Will Win?

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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