LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett-Packard plans to release a digital music player later this year based on Apple Computer's popular IPod, in a partnership between the companies announced here at the Consumer Electronics Show.
HP will also preinstall Apple's ITunes jukebox software on its consumer PCs and notebook systems. The company will add a desktop icon pointing customers to the ITunes online music store, HP says in a statement released Thursday.
HP plans to release its player this summer. Further details, such as pricing, how the product will look, and financial terms of the deal with Apple, are not being released. HP says the device will be competitively priced with others on the market. The 20GB version of Apple's IPod retails for $399.
Carly Fiorina, HP's chair and chief executive officer, is likely to shed more light on the news in her upcoming CES keynote address.
Partners in Tune
HP had indicated plans to release a digital music player, but the partnership with Apple took some observers by surprise. The company explored a range of options and decided a deal with Apple was the best course, Fiorina says in the statement.
For HP, the move fits with the company's broader digital entertainment system strategy, according to Fiorina. For Apple, the deal furthers its goal of getting IPods and ITunes in the hands of as many people as possible, says Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive officer, in the statement.
"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 says in the statement.
The IPod, which works with both Macintosh computers and PCs, has been credited with taking digital music players into the mainstream. More than 2 million of them have been sold since it was introduced in 2001. The deal should make HP the first company to resell a version of Apple's product.
Earlier this week at Macworld in San Francisco, Apple announced a smaller version of the IPod called the IPod Mini. The smaller model, available in a choice of five colors, will retail for $249 and come with a 4GB hard drive. Apple's existing product is available in several models, ranging up to 40GB of storage. The companies aren't saying whether HP also has designs on the smaller version.
HP says its research finds that more than 54 percent of its current consumer customers download music to their PCs.
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