But with more and more Palm Pres appearing in the wild — in the hands of Palm employees, Elevation partners, one of my high-school buddies, even the Boy Genius — we can now confirm this little secret:
Plug a Pre into a Mac and it syncs, seamlessly, with Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes.
In fact, the iTunes Store treats the Pre just as it would an iPod or an iPhone with one two exceptions: it can’t handle old copy-protected songs or, naturally, iPhone apps.
Third party programs that sync music with various non-Apple MP3 players — including the Palm Treo and 700p — have been available for some time. But team Pre has apparently built the necessary code right into the device’s firmware.
They certainly have the know-how. The team is chock-a-block with former Apple employees and is led by Palm president Jon Rubinstein, who built the original iPod for Steve Jobs.
How Apple legal will respond to a presumably unauthorized invasion of their music store remains to be seen.
Asked about the Pre during a quarterly earnings call in January, COO Tim Cook said Apple would use whatever weapons it has at its disposal to fight companies that rip off its intellectual property.
An Apple spokesperson, reached for comment earlier this week, would only say that the company does not respond to rumor and speculation.
UPDATE: From John Paczkowski’s coverage of the Pre demo given Thursday afternoon by Palm’s Jon Rubinstein at D7: All Things Digital:
For an explanation of how the Pre does this — and how it is different from how, say, RIM and Nokia translate iTunes library files — see Jon Lech Johansen’s primer here.
UPDATE 2: Palm lists “Palm Media Sync” first among the features it trumpets in its post D7 press release: