When former Apple iPod wunderkind Jon Rubinstein joined Palm as executive chairman - and then assumed the role as CEO, it raised eyebrows.
Some thought the move would help Palm adopt some of the same, successful traits he used to help turn Apple into a mobile powerhouse; that he would take some of his know-how to help Palm craft its own identity.
Then there was the thinking that Palm would assert its own unique identity with its highly anticipated smart phone, and purported iPhone killer, the Pre; that maybe Palm had come up with a better mousetrap on both hardware and software and wouldn't need to co-opt Apple's technology in order to sell its own.
One of the key selling points of the Palm Pre was its seamless integration with Apple's iTunes; Palm, it seemed, didn't need to develop its own store, or own software, for digital media downloading. Instead, Palm would just take what wasn't its own, and then would claim the practice as "innovation." Who knows, but maybe Mr. Rubinstein still thought he worked at Apple, or that his history there afforded him some rights to a technology that no longer had a connection to.
When Apple fought back last week, effectively cutting off Pre users from that "seamless integration" with iTunes with a new software release, some thought it'd be the end Palm's innovation charade, and that both sides - and all their respective users - could move forward. Maybe, to borrow a phrase from President Obama this morning, the events would be used by Palm as a "teachable moment."
Instead, Palm releases a new version of its webOS today, which, among other things, re-establishes the link between the Palm Pre and Apple's iTunes. And in true, copy-cat fashion, Palm heralds the news by borrowing (stealing?) a phrase from Steve Jobs: "Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync." One more thing. Cute. Cheeky. Silly.
Why Palm is goading Apple is beyond me. I get the argument that all publicity is good publicity and that Palm, as a scrappy upstart is trying to keep this war alive because we all keep writing about it, and it keeps Palm's name, and more importantly the Pre, front and center in the public's eye. But really, do you want to be known as an also-ran? Is that somehow OK?