HP playing along with both Apple’s and Microsoft’s digital media initiatives

“The two major initiatives in the consumer market this year have to do with digital media, and they are from Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft’s is the broad Media Center Edition that encompasses the home and provides your music on a variety of products, while Apple’s is more targeted at just PCs (both Apple and Windows) and the iPod. The two companies overlap in only one area — the Windows PC — and even here they differ in approach. Apple is mostly music (although it just added still images t the iPod) and Microsoft has consistently pushed the envelope with music, pictures and video,” Rob Enderle writes for TechNewsWorld.

“HP, the other major player involved, is the only company playing with both initiatives. It has the largest sales of Media Center Computers, owning 50 percent of that market, and it is number two with hard drive players, though it got there simply by reselling Apple’s iPod,” Enderle writes. “I know a lot of my peers have been less than overwhelmed by HP’s use of the iPod — given that it is basically an Apple iPod with both HP and Apple logos on it — but that is short term thinking. Let’s take a look at what HP is trying to accomplish and why, if successful, it has the best chance of taking leadership in this emerging segment.”

“HP has tied the iPod, through a unique to HP Windows-centric iTunes implementation, directly to the Media Center, and it tied its own printer technology into the product with printable skins. While it currently sells only the ‘traditional’ iPod, that model is the one that publications like the Mercury News recommend because it is be the best value and works with the most accessories. HP is even able to emulate the Apple iPod advertisements to push its own product, giving HP better visibility for all of its consumer electronics offerings while slowly transferring the knowledge needed to do this kind of marketing itself,” Enderle writes.

“There certainly are risks. Microsoft or Apple could screw up their sides (and both have done this in the past); someone else could come up with the next killer product (the Gateway media player has great potential); and HP, if it isn’t careful, could lose its own brand identity to Apple. But nothing with high potential is without risk,” ,” Enderle writes. “In short, by partnering with both Microsoft and Apple, HP is able to blend the best of both. It is positioned to do what no other vendor has been able to do: Tie the leading technology platform to the leading marketing capability. If this can be done successfully, HP will be incredibly difficult to match. The reward would seem to significantly exceed the risk. Just imagine: Microsoft’s resources and skills coupled with Apple’s design excellence and marketing competence. Who could stop such a company? Who would even want to? And that, my friends is the potential of the HP gambit.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Gateway media player has great potential?

Related MacDailyNews article:
HP Tunes allows playing of iTunes songs and playlists in Windows Media Center interface – October 25, 2004
Beleaguered Gateway announces ‘iPod Photo killer’ (with image) – October 28, 2004

25 Comments

  1. Microsoft’s resources and skills coupled with Apple’s design excellence and marketing competence. Who could stop such a company?

    By resources you mean money.. and by skills you mean.. er.. what exactly do you mean. You should have said MS’s MONEY AND DISTRIBUTION (WINDOWS).. they have little skill in anything.. that’s why so many XP users are playing with iTunes..

  2. Consider the source. Enderle thinks Apple can market and Microsoft can’t. He still doesn’t think that people buy the iPod/iTunes/iTMS as a package deal. He thinks it is marketing, not a good product.

    Apple sells the best, most secure OS in the history of computing. Microsoft sells an inferior, buggy, spyware and virus ridden OS that is barely adequate. Microsoft outsells Apple 40 to 1.

    Microsoft can market.

  3. Microsoft marketing has been through fear and intimidation, not through innovation.

    Enderle seems to make the same mistake that most do, and thinks that it’s all about the numbers. Whoever has the most numbers wins.

    There’s a real world out there pal.

  4. I understand that we’re all huge iPod fans, but I cannot continue to understand why MDN is so certain that all competition against the iPod is doomed to failure. Let me explain before I’m immediately discounted…

    Undisputeably the iPod is far ahead in many ways concerning design and functionality. The interface is the simplest of all that I’ve seen. The circular click-wheel is eons ahead of competition because it is the most efficient way of scrolling (far and beyond any up/down button or simply a vertical touch-sensitive pad). The unit is small and stylish, and it has become a cultural icon.

    But we all know that cultural icons come and go. Remember when it was fashionable to have snap bracelets? Or trucker hats (albeit somewhat shortlived)? What about the return of the platform shoes? I’m sure many of these fads don’t appeal to you (and you’re asking “when was that a fad?” but at least where I live, they all came and went.

    The iPod now sells mostly as a symbol of status and of ease of use. Culturally it signifies coolness, wealth, and much more. But over time Apple needs to remain at the forefront of technology if it is to retain these positions. I argue that it is not pulling ahead, but rather falling behind.

    The iPod Photo might be nice, but it’s by no means “ahead of its time”. The original iPod was. This isn’t. True iPod commands an over 90% market control over Hard Disk music players, I think the key reason for this is because Apple has remained ahead of the technology curve for so long. Until only this year, was there any other player that was efficient enough to use a hard drive to store music, and yet small enough and elegant enough to fit in the plam of your hand? And did it have the style that makes it a cultural fashion statement?

    The answer is no. So Apple has built strong name recognition behind the iPod. But since then, the look of the iPod has changed slightly, but the only major improvement has been a color screen and the ability to store photos. While the iPod was almost two years ahead of hard-drive based competition, Gateway produced a color-screen/photo capable hard drive player within weeks of Apple.

    And these competitors are not just coming closer, but they’re looking better than ever. While nothing still matches the iPod’s simplistic elegance, other companies are beginning to realize that the future is in style. New “iPod-killers” have color, curving looks, and more elegant user interface buttons.

    How long can the iPod stay ahead of these? They’ve been ahead because they came first, but now the competition does so much more. Other players record, play radio, play movies (as well as show pictures), etc. iPod may look good, but it’s a little short on some of these features. If iPod was the first with radio, people would be all about how compatible it is with other real-life things. But since it isn’t, we just disregard the other players by saying “oh nobody cares”. The infamous Mac-fan double standard. I’m a Mac fan, I try to avoid these.

    So I think Apple’s future is still bright, but not as bright as MDN believes. Apple must stay ahead of the curve or it could be trouble. Thus far they’ve done well, but I think we really need to see something significant (like built in bluetooth or wireless capabilities, compatibility with car stereos (like MDN has suggested, a simple push your iPod into a slot deal would work nicely), etc.). Let’s see Apple pull ahead again, and they’ll drive everyone else into the ground once and for all.

    All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if Apple’s lead diminishes slightly in the future, and once more the Mac community has to deal with the “told you so” insults…

  5. Have you noticed that all the Microsoft apologists are currently required to suggest that the iPod has only succeeded due to clever marketing ?

    They clearly wouldn’t anybody to imagine that customers buy them because they actually do what customers want.

    They used to be over-priced, then they had ‘dodgy’ batteries, next they were a ‘closed system’, now they’re cleverly marketed.

    Any predictions about what the next way of knocking them might be ?

    We’ve come a long way since Apple was always referred to as ‘beleaguered’ !

  6. All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if Apple’s lead diminishes slightly in the future, and once more the Mac community has to deal with the “told you so” insults…
    ———

    Pfft.. bold statement.. not. They have a 90% markethshare.. it’s pretty hard to go up a great deal.. down is inevitable.. but not all the way..

    A slight drop is nothing to get freaked about.. and has more to do with supply constraints than anything MS is doing…

  7. HP is hedging their bets, MS looks very dodgy these days. Next step HP sell iMacs, iBooks, if that goes well who knows.

    HP struggles to make a profit with consumer PCs, they may make more reselling Macs (and save on support too). Mac users are likely better printer buyers. HP would still sell PCs for the corporates (like IBM does), maybe plenty with Linux and OO.

    Apple + MS is typical BS/diversion from Enderle. Apple + HP is more likely, and a threat to MS (and indirectly Enderle!).

    TechNewsWorld is a rag.

  8. Enderle said “although it just added still images to the iPod”. That’s not quite true, Apple brought out a new model, the iPod Photo.

    Strangely coincident I came across this article which has a quote from Enderle which shows that he can get a clue sometimes.

    “The very thing that made the Xbox a rapid success is also what made it easy to hack,” Enderle said.

    Message to Rob, same to some extent applies to Windows, and IE, and Word…

    http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/041115/xbox_crackdown_2.html

  9. This Media Center Edtion thing encompassing the home has me baffled. Does anyone use it? No one I know uses it, too damn flakey, but we keep hearing from “analysts” how wonderful it is and how MS owns the home market with it. Beats me!

  10. Russell – I agree with a lot of what you said. I don’t necessarily agree with the fad comparison. Although the cultural/hipness aspect has attracted the masses, the functional qualities you described are what has kept the iPod above the other players – fads tend not to have much inherent quality behind their success.

    But overall, yeah, how Apple chooses to stay ahead of the curve is critical. Personally, I believe that keeping the iPod simple, but expandable by 3rd party utilities, is the good. There are many functions that some want, but hardly any that everyone wants. Correctly determining what everyone wants is the difficult part, but so far I like Apple’s record in this area. Wireless is one that I believe everyone would be on board with.

    The other critical thing is pricing. If Dell or Gateway or whatever can produce even an ugly iPod wannabe for $50-75 less than the comparable iPod, some part of America is going to find it acceptable to live with the limitations (or at least their kids will learn to do it after they find their Gateway digital music player under the Xmas tree because it was cheaper).

  11. Mo,

    Two people where I work bought them and have, after screwing around with them and being disappointed, have sold them on eBay.

    These are tech-savy folks who own PCs and Macs. And they tossed their Media Centers.

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