HP has partnered with Apple to deliver an HP-branded digital music player based on the iPod. HP will also ship its PCs and notebooks with iTunes pre-installed. Carly Fiorina sings praises to Apple:
HPs goal is to bring the most compelling entertainment content and experiences to our customers, said Carly Fiorina, chairman and chief executive officer at HP. We explored a range of alternatives to deliver a great digital music experience and concluded Apples 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 worlds best digital music offering into HPs larger digital entertainment system strategy.
So finally Steve Jobs is allowing some cloning at last ;-), and it looks like a very interesting move to me. Now Apple needs to emphasize the underlying web services that are built into iTMS -- which allow things such as its integration with AOL, or opening its new allowance system (e.g. gift certificates) to other vendors -- to strengthen its place against contenders.