HP matches Apple with own MP3 player release

30 Aug 2004

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has outlined its plans to launch a digital music player next month as part of a concerted push into the consumer electronics space. The device is HP’s version of Apple’s popular iPod player, which is currently the leading MP3 system on the market.

The computer maker has begun taking pre-orders for its music players, dubbed hPods, ahead of a 15 September release date. Earlier this year HP made an agreement with Apple to resell the iPod, with the aim of improving both companies’ exposure in the consumer market outside of the traditional IT sector.

Some analysts have suggested that HP’s device could soon outsell the original iPod because HP as a brand is well distributed among electronics retailers. However, HP will not undercut Apple on price: the 20GB hPod will retail at US$299 and the 40GB model will cost US$399, no different to the cost of an original iPod.

Users will be able to customise their hPods by covering it with a ‘tattoo’ – a printed sticker with pictures of artists or bands that wraps around the device and can be easily added or removed.

As part of the same launch, HP also took the wraps off rolled out a 42-inch high-definition plasma TV, a DVD home theatre projector, new Photosmart printers and an entertainment notebook PC. Company CEO Carly Fiorina put the value of the market for all digital products at close to US$360bn within three years. “We see this as a huge growth opportunity for HP for many years to come,” she said.

By Gordon Smith