As you might have heard, HP has decided to stop selling its branded iPods by the end of September.
And that makes me sad.
No, not because hPods could be found by the paletteful at my local Costco. Nor because I could recommend the device to Windows-using pals who wanted a warranty slightly better than what Apple offers. And not even because I’ll miss the big ol’ diagram packed into every box that describes how to connect the iPod to your PC.
I’m going to miss the HP iPod because I will no longer be able to dish out a particular flavor of crap to my band’s trombone player.
He works for HP, you see. He knows of my interest in the iPod, yet has never embraced the device. When HP began selling the things, I couldn’t help but to gloat the tiniest bit and, simultaneously, offer a dig or two at HP’s new Invent tagline.
“So, could you explain to me again exactly how this Invent thing fits in with selling another company’s music player?”
Oh, how we laughed.
Or maybe that was just me.
Regardless, HP is putting an end to the laughter. If The Wall Street Journal is correct that only 5 percent of all iPods sold were stamped with the HP logo, I can see why both sides would want out of the agreement (though all reports indicate this was HP’s decision).
When Steve Jobs and HP’s now-deposed CEO, Carly Fiorina announced their iPod partnership in January 2004, Apple was still building the iPod and iTunes brand. Selling iPods through a major PC manufacturer (and simultaneously bundling iTunes with a whole lot of Windows boxes) made a lot of sense for Apple. And offering the hippest music player around certainly helped satisfy HP’s desire to be thought of as innovative and youthful rather than stodgy and, well, stodgy.
But times have changed. The iPod is beyond established—Apple’s selling plenty of iPods on its own, thank you very much. As for HP, the glitzy Fiorina era is over. HP’s recently shed a load of employees and its looking for profitable markets and, presumably, markets that it controls. That could never be an option with an Apple product.
So farewell, hPod. It was fun while it lasted, but I fear it was never destined to last.
While I bear a sense of personal loss, I take some small comfort in the knowledge that there’s no shortage of trombone jokes.