The new hpPod

Aaagh! My eyes!

Don’t let the garish appearance fool you: it’s a sticker. Everything else about the HP-branded iPod is identical to the Apple version, with the exception of the HP: Invent logo on the back (which has caused some snickering on various Mac sites). The only thing HP is bringing to the iPod party is mobile phone-style covers, which you can print from – of course – an HP printer whenever you feel like putting Slipknot or Britney on your iPod; everything else (including the price) is identical to the current 4G iPods.

On the face of it, then, HP’s iPod isn’t particularly impressive – but anyone who thinks that is missing the point in a big way. The iPod isn’t broken, so any attempt by HP to fix it would probably have been disastrous; the blue iPod mockup that’s been on the net for a few months was so hideous I can’t imagine anyone buying it. What HP gets from this deal is some much-needed “cool”, and Apple? It gets iPods into HP’s massive distribution network, which covers all the major retailers around the world that don’t currently sell iPods, and there’s a distinct possibility that HP will make and sell more iPods than Apple could handle. That means iPods everywhere and the iTunes music store on many, many more PCs.