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Why can't Palm follow Zune's lead?

The cat-and-mouse game between Palm and Apple has begun: if you install the latest iTunes update, you'll no longer be able to sync your Palm Pre with iTunes. Rather than getting drawn into this game, Palm ought to follow the Zune's lead, and build its own

As predicted, Apple decided it didn't want a competitor piggybacking off its software, and the latest update to iTunes prevents Apple's iconic media-management app from recognizing the Palm Pre.

It ain't pretty, but it works: the Zune software automatically indexes songs in your iTunes library.

Pre customers have a couple of workarounds--DoubleTwist, a free app that will sync media from your Mac or PC to almost any device, sounds particularly promising. (Bonus: it was created by DVD Jon, who's been tweaking digital-media control schemes since before the iPod was born.)

But that doesn't help Palm, who recognizes that having a strong digital media story is key to competing in the consumer smartphone space. Here's my suggestion: instead of being drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with Apple, Palm should build (or acquire) its own digital media sync software, and make sure it indexes every file in the user's iTunes library. This is what Microsoft did with the Zune software (PC-only, of course, this being Microsoft), and while it's not a perfectly elegant solution--it doesn't carry playlists over, for example--it solves the problem of getting your tunes out of iTunes and onto the device of your choice.

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