Today HP and Apple announced that they will deliver an HP branded mp3 player based on Apple's iPod and will have iTunes preloaded on HP PCs beginning summer 2004. HP has already started to sell consumer electronics such as digital cameras and plasma TVs. Rather than half ass a hard drive based mp3 player (cough, Dell, cough) and rip off an online music store (ahem MusicMatch), they chose to partner with Apple.
“We explored a range of alternatives to deliver a great digital music experience and concluded Apple’s iPod music player and iTunes music service were the best by far. By partnering with Apple, we have the opportunity to add value by integrating the world’s best digital music offering into HP’s larger digital entertainment system strategy.”
I think this will be great for Apple and HP. Apple can potentially get its iPod and Music Store into more homes and HP doesn't get ridiculed when it comes out with a lackluster mp3 player and music service.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball has written an excellent article that pretty much sums up the entire HP/Apple alliance. It goes over the advantages for both HP and Apple and what it means for the entire industry. It also goes over what this means for Microsoft. It's good, just go over there and read the article.