Palm Pre to Sync with iTunes on Macs?

Fortune reports that the forthcoming Palm Pre is able to sync with iTunes on Macs, appearing in iTunes' device list just like an iPhone or iPod with the only limitation on syncing being its inability to handle older, copy-protected tracks from the iTunes Store. Although not mentioned in the report, the Pre would also presumably be incompatible with movies and other videos from the iTunes Store, as such content continues to be copy-protected.

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 exception: it can't handle old copy-protected songs.

Third party programs that perform the same service for 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 devices firmware.

The Palm Pre, scheduled to launch early next month, is regarded as the most worthy competitor yet to the iPhone and has been the source of much attention both for its features and for the device's connections to Apple. Former Apple executives John Rubinstein and Fred Anderson, as well as a number of other former Apple employees, have played key roles in rebuilding Palm, which has staked its future on its new "webOS" platform. The Pre is the first Palm device to be based on the new platform.

On a conference call in January just weeks after the Pre's announcement, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook made a number of forceful comments announcing Apple's intent to vigorously defend its iPhone intellectual property. While stopping short of calling out Palm for the Pre's implementation of multi-touch technology, which is similar in many ways to the iPhone's, Cook's comments were widely viewed as a veiled threat toward Palm.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment to Fortune about the Pre's ability to sync with iTunes, and it remains to be seen whether Apple will take legal or technical action to address the issue.