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HP, stop the iPod license program

HP abandons iPod sales. The news was, after some rumors published by the Wall Street Journal, the same Apple. "HP has decided that reselling an iPod is not part of their digital entertainment strategy. As a result * spokeswoman Natalie Kerr said * will suspend the license program from the end of September "

The reasons for the choice that only affects the American market since the iPod by HP was not for sale elsewhere, are not known. HP, for now, has preferred not to comment, limiting itself to specifying how "HP constantly evaluates its own strategy in the digital world", but there is little doubt that the abandonment of the iPod has to do with the scarce success of the initiative.

According to recent information, sales of HP iPods reached a few hundred thousand a month, a decidedly reduced pace when one thinks of the speed with which Cupertino handles players. Certainly, the strict licensing restrictions, which in fact prevented any customization of the iPod by HP, whose players were completely identical to those of Apple, both the scarce conviction and complexity with which HP supported the player.

After an announcement in the early days of 2004, HP took months to launch the first iPod on the market, which only appeared just before the autumn of that year. Subsequently, while Apple was launching new iPods with a continuous jet, HP left a model (only one, that of the HD version) increasingly aged at the same cost as the new ones. Only at the beginning of 2006, in parallel with the takeover of a new HP management, did it seem to show a little more dynamism so that currently the offer of "iPod by HP" in fact on a par with that of Apple.

HP had also tried to give the alliance more body by studying some hardware and software solutions to support it, such as HP Tunes, and a special dock to connect iPods.

But despite this many analysts have continued to doubt the effectiveness of the strategy. In particular, those who criticized the agreement argued that, under the conditions in which it was put into practice, it could give only marginal benefits to the two parties. If in fact Apple, on paper, would have enjoyed greater visibility even in channels not normally reachable, on the other it would have been very probable that, given the popularity of iPod, those who bought one rebranded, would have bought it anyway even if it had been sold by Apple directly. HP instead, simply reselling iPod without the possibility of creating its own specific version and, above all, without supporting it with conviction with a specific integration in its range of products (for example by creating computers oriented to support iPod and digital music), would have had more costs than benefits. Not to mention the fact that HP is one of Microsoft's main allies and that it embraces a player that the number one enemy for Microsoft's digital music strategy, certainly represented a complicating factor for HP, forced to go against the current of the universe in which moves from the point of view of the hardware and the operating system.

Hence, at least from the point of view of HP, the decision to suspend sales, a decision which, moreover, comes in the context in which we are trying to reduce expenses with much more painful cuts than the one that will lead to the renunciation of iPod .

Leaving the agreement and following up on the new strategies will not be entirely painless for HP. CEO Mark Hurd, according to the Wall Street Journal, has had to commit to not releasing an iPod owner and competitor until the summer of next year. At the same time it is very likely that HP will continue to install iTunes on all machines sold, at least for now.

For its part, Apple, despite the theoretical loss of 5% of sales (the percentage of iPods sold is so great) that could be without too much effort recovered by selling its iPods, it will now be free to look for other alliances with other manufacturers PC

Yesterday's announcement, despite the program's poor success, caused some repercussions on the stock market, bringing the AAPL stock down (-2.6%).