Songbird Should See a Pre Opportunity

By Chris Josephes
July 24, 2009 | Comments: 1

Palm webOS 1.1.0 just came out, and it fixes a nasty bug that was introduced by iTunes 8.2.1 back on July 15th. After nine days of leaving users with stale content, the Palm Pre is now able to sync again with iTunes. That will probably change when Apple releases iTunes 8.2.2.

I understood the logic of syncing with iTunes, but I never understood the short-sighted wisdom. By allowing their non-Apple device to sync with iTunes, Palm created a low entry barrier for people who wanted to bring their music onto the Pre platform. Unfortunately, they're also admitting that they believe iTunes is the number one best music player on the market, and no other product even matters. If you go by the number of iPods and iPhones sold, then it's hard to disagree with Palm's assessment.

Unfortunately for Palm, Apple has made it pretty clear that they have no intention of doing business with them; and that's perfectly within Apple's right. Why should Apple agree to help out a company that's trying to steal their hardware customers?

The Songbird development team should be looking at this as an opportunity (Actually, lots of software companies should be seeing the opportunity here). If Songbird wants to increase market share and have a more successful product, they need to get in bed with the Pre. That doesn't mean they need to be exclusive to the Pre, but they should use the partnership as an opportunity to improve their syncing code, and increase product visibility. I should point out that Songbird does sync with a few music devices on the market, but none of them have ever made a significant dent in the portable music player market.

At the same time, Palm needs a music syncing application that isn't controlled by their competition. They need to quit wasting time reverse engineering drivers, when they can work with a software organization that can see real value in their product. And if Palm doesn't think Songbird is very popular, invest some marketing dollars to make it popular. Songbird is one of the more capable open source music applications around, but it's stuck in a marketing limbo. If Songbird is bundled with the Pre, the user base increases. If the user base increases, the incentive to build a better quality product increases.

This shouldn't be rocket science. Two companies help each other, and they both benefit from the results. Otherwise, Songbird remains a niche application with a small user base, and the Pre is firmly entrenched as a second class phone that is stuck under Apple's thumb.


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1 Comment

So very true; thank you for pointing it out. I do wonder whether Palm have inadvertently done themselves a disservice by making the Pre do its best to masquerade as an iPod - what about apps that want to specifically serve both devices, but need to differentiate them?

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