HP today announced the Apple iPod from HP, or iPod+hp.

The company has not released the device in blue, contrary to earlier expectations. In all respects - including price - the HP-licensed iPod matches Apple's music player, though it's uncertain if the HP variant works on both Macs and Windows machines. The iPod+hp is available in both 20GB and 40GB models at $299.99 amd $399.99 respectively, matching Apple's prices. It's available for pre-order now through HP's online store.

HP also introduced HP Printable Tattoos, a paper stock compatible with HP printers that iPod-owners can use to personalize their iPods with album art, photos, or other designs. The Tattoos are durable, water-resistant and easy to apply and remove. HP is also working with the labels to offer new album art Tattoos for purchase online.

The HP Tattoo Gallery will be regularly updated with new album art, so consumers can personalize their iPod.

US only today

The Apple iPod from HP will be available in the US only beginning August 27, 2004. The product will be available online at various retailers beginning August 27 and in stores beginning September 12, 2004. The company hasn't yet announced any international shipping dates, and it is unclear if this has been allowed under Apple's license with the company.

HP CEO Cary Fiorina said: "At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, we said the real digital revolution was not just about gizmos and gadgets - it was about making the whole system work better together.

"Our customers have told us they want to easily share, enjoy and preserve their personal experiences - whether those experiences are photos, music or video. Today, HP is delivering on the first phase of our vision with solutions that make a consumer's digital lifestyle simple and rewarding."

Specific HP iPod features

The HP iPod ships with a user guide aimed at PC users for "easy PC-to-iPod connectivity", the company said. the product also features, "a simple-to-follow set-up poster".

Each Apple iPod from HP also ships with one year of free phone support and a one-year limited warranty through the HP Total Care Support program.

HP will debut its new advertising campaign during the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday August 29. Award-winning music video producer Paul Hunter directed the advertisements.

Conference call

The official launch will be made at a news conference led by company CEO Carly Fiorina in Miami. The company will also unveil a range of products aimed at the consumer markets, including a 42-inch HD plasma TV, a DVD home theatre projector, new PhotoSmart printers and an entertainment notebook PC.

When Apple and HP announced their partnership in January, Fiorina said: "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."

Apple to profit from HP deal

Analysts predict that HP's iPod will outsell Apple's own product, given HP's broad distribution channels.

Following the HP/Apple alliance announcement, Apple's then chief financial officer Fred Anderson said: "We're very optimistic that this is going to drive significant incremental business for our iPod and our iTunes Music Store."

Apple's decision to open up iTunes and iPod to Windows users has been widely praised by analysts, and has seen the company enjoy significant sales. Recent reports indicate this is also driving new interest in the company's computers.

Speaking in January, Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf welcomed the decision: "In our opinion, Apple's decision to port iTunes to the Windows platform was the most strategically significant one the company made since Steve Jobs' return in 1997. It signalled that Apple would no longer confine its award-winning software to the Mac but instead leverage it to address a market where 95 per cent of consumers use Windows PCs."

Apple's Music Store sales tripled after the iTunes for Windows launch.

The news will be televised

The HP announcement will be webcast, with a replay made available for approximately one month.

The press conference begins at 1.30pm (EDT), 6.30pm (BST).