On Friday, Palm released webOS 1.1 as a free update to all existing Palm Pre owners. This is the third major enhancement since launching on June 6. Palm?s older Treo owners are looking on in shock because they were lucky to see two updates in three years.
Over at the Palm blog John Traynor, VP Business Products, added the ‘take that Apple’ with: "Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync. That?s right – you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1)."
Among the Pre’s latest enhancements are UI [user interface] improvements in nearly every nook and cranny. There is a new feature that ties your reminders back to the caller. There is a new application from Sprint that allows you to watch or listen to live NFL games on the Pre. Precentral has a complete listing of all the features, both documented and those nifty undocumented ones.
Palm’s ex iPod and ex-iPhone engineers are clearly having a lot of fun playing one-upmanship with Apple. This keeps the Palm Pre on the media?s radar screen as competition for the iPhone. CNET says the Palm Pre is really a direct competitor. Apple’s iPhone 3GS, with its third generation device and operating system, only managed a .06 winning margin over the version 1.0 Palm Pre and webOS in CNET’s prizefight.
Precentral has an in-depth article about how Palm again made iTunes work on the Pre.
Palm added a new wrinkle to the controversy with their complaint to the USB Implementers Forum over what it sees as "improper use of the Vendor ID number" by Apple. Palm claims that when an ID is applied for, a form is signed that states: "Unauthorized use of assigned or unassigned USB Vendor ID Numbers and associated Product ID Numbers are strictly prohibited." Palm is implying that Apple is violating the agreement by disallowing certain Vendor IDs – namely, Palm – from using iTunes.
Some bloggers have raised questions as to whether Palm has crossed a legal line and will get sued by Apple. Computerworld chose to turn to an engineer rather than an attorney for an opinion. Ivan Zatkovich is an engineer who provides consulting help to attorneys involved in intellectual property disputes. He said that if Apple doesn’t take more steps to protect iTunes sync through its intellectual property rights, then "Palm is perfectly within its rights to provide the [iTunes sync] functionality as well."
In January, Palm?s spokesperson, Lynn Fox, said they were not worried about Apple suing over the Pre?s design and functionality. Fox told Digital Daily?s John Paczkowski: "Palm has a long history of innovation that is reflected in our products and robust patent portfolio [31 pages of patents in Google Patent Search, op.a], and we have long been recognized for our fundamental patents in the mobile space."
The folks over at the iPhone blog raised several interesting items about the WebOS update. They didn’t have a lot to say about the new features. What really got their attention was Palm using OTA [over the air] updating on Sprint’s mobile network. They mumbled about the AT&T mobile network not having the capability to do OTA. They even acknowledged that Google’s Android OS can do OTA updates on T-mobile’s network. When Palm Pre arrives in Europe, advanced european networks should have no issues in supporting OTA, unlike the american counterparts.
BSN* turned to someone who has been deeply involved in the digital music world and handled threats by large companies over his innovative ideas. Michael Robertson, the founder and former CEO of MP3.com which quickly became one of the most popular Internet music sites, said: "Classic arms race. Apple has the upper hand, but will eventually tire of the process and let Palm be."
In the mean time, Palm versus Apple is more fun than watching professional wrestling on cable TV.