HP Ends Apple iPod Relationship

It never quite made sense from the beginning. HP is ending its deal with Apple Computer to resell the popular iPod music player. Announced at the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January 2004, HP's iPod wasn't released until 7 months later. The deal was an attempt by HP to take advantage of the iPod's cool factor. HP was expected to release a blue-branded iPod with the ability to listen to Windows Media Audio (WMA) audio, but that feature never saw the light of day. Instead, under the terms of the deal, HP could resell an identical version of the iPod, with just the HP name added to the back of the device. Until recently, HP sold only the iPod, but it added the iPod mini and iPod shuffle to its product offerings in the past 2 months. The partnership never made much sense for HP, though, and the company finally announced that it will end sales because the iPod doesn't fit within its digital-entertainment strategy: Apple's proprietary Protected AAC music format made it difficult for HP to integrate the offerings into its wide array of products, including handhelds and Windows XP Media Center PCs. HP can't develop or market a rival digital music player until August 2006, under the terms of its clearly one-sided deal with Apple.

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