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iPhone Envy Brings Out Innovation

Reports of sellouts of Palm's new Pre smartphone were reported at various locations around the U.S. on Saturday, although the retail stock appears to have been a bit lower than Apple's record-breaking sales days for its first two versions of the iPhone.

Palm made waves for its multi-touch ability as well as its direct emulation of an iPod in iTunes, something that Research In Motion (RIM) and others have only accomplished via XML rather than directly emulating an iPod.

While searching for details of the Pre's iPod emulation, I came across Jon Lech Johansen's blog post on the topic, which clearly shows the code change from USB Drive mode to Media Sync mode. In USB Drive mode, the "Product Identification" line shows the device as "Pre" but in the Media Sync mode, it shows the "Product Identification" as "iPod" and uses "com_apple_driver_iPodSBC" as its primary driver when in Media Sync mode.

Of perhaps greater interest to Streaming Media readers, though, is Johansen's bigger announcement of his doubleTwist software. More well known by his "DVD Jon" moniker for the release of CSS codes for commercial video DVDs a few years ago, Johansen set up a company called doubleTwist last year, working on a heretofore unknown software product.

Under the tag line "The Cure for iPhone Envy" Johansen promises that the doubleTwist application will offer an iTunes library on almost any mobile device, offering a free download of the application at www.doubletwist.com/cure.

Initially intended to launch via an advertising campaign today, doubleTwist used a cleverly-chosen location outside the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station just below Apple's flagship San Francisco store.

"We were going to launch our new ad campaign on Monday morning," Johansen said on his blog on Friday, "but the ad company jumped the gun and it already went up today. As soon as I heard I headed over to get some pictures." One of those shots is shown below.

doubleTwist launched in a big way, with an ad outside the BART station below Apple's flagship San Francisco store. BART officials removed the ad over the weekend, but it should be up again by Tuesday.

BART officials removed the advertisement over the weekend, but Johansen expects it to be back in place by Tuesday.

doubleTwist in some ways follows the Pre's lead, allowing many mobile devices to access an application that extracts the iTunes music and video libraries, including playlists, as well as any images on the computer. For video files, doubleTwist then performs a behind-the-scenes transcode, changing frame size, frame rate and video codec.

The files can also be shared with others, as the files are also uploaded to doubleTwist's social media site, and then a link to the streaming file is sent via email to any chosen email address. If the person the file is shared with is also a doubleTwist social media member, the shared file can be added to their desktop application and then placed on the mobile device synced with the doubleTwist application.

Johansen's application comes at a time when Apple's iPhone dominates new smartphone sales, filling a gap for those who have a music- or video-player equippped mobile device that isn't an iPhone or a Pre. doubleTwist claims to support BlackBerry, Sony PSP, G1 and Android phones, Windows Mobile 5.0/6.0 platform phones, Motorola and even audio files for the Amazon Kindle.

Apple is expected to release its iPhone version 3.0 software at today's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), however, and the company may also announce additional versions of the iPhone. The WWDC keynote starts at 1p.m. Eastern time. As WWDC is traditionally a time for Apple to provide strategic roadmap information to its growing developer base, Streaming Media will cover pertinent breaking news from the conference throughout the week.

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