HP to deliver iPod-based players

Apple's desire to see the iPod remain the leader in the digital music player market got a big push on Thursday when Apple and HP announced that they have formed a strategic alliance to deliver HP-branded digital music players based on the iPod. The news came at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What's more, iTunes and the iTunes Music Store will be available to HP customers. Buyers of new HP consumer PCs and notebook computers will include iTunes software and a desktop icon to help them find it. HP said that the software will be pre-loaded on Pavilion, Media Center and Compaq Presario desktop and laptop systems.

The news comes only a few days after Apple revealed the second member of its iPod product line, the iPod mini. Revealed during Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address on Tuesday, the iPod mini sports the same interface as its larger, higher capacity sibling, although it features a more consolidated navigational interface, a 1/2-inch thickness, and dimensions about the size of a credit card. The 4GB unit is priced at US$249.

Steve Jobs said that Apple's new partnership with HP enables Apple's own goal of getting iPods and iTunes "into the hands of every music lover around the world."

"As the industry balkanizes by offering digital music wrapped in a multitude of incompatible proprietary technologies, consumers will be reassured in getting the same unparalleled digital music solutions from both HP and Apple, two leaders in the digital music era," Jobs said.

The companies did not offer details on how the HP-branded device might differ from Apple's offerings, and specific model and pricing information was not available. HP indicated that the device would "be competitively priced" to other digital music players in the same market segment.

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