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HP benches iTunes and promotes Real's Rhapsody

Spits out Apple

CES HP's career as an Apple reseller has come to an end. The computer maker is expected to announce that it has dropped iTunes as the main music software on its PC and picked up the Rhapsody service from Real Networks as a replacement. This move follows HP's July decision to stop selling rebadged iPods.

Rhapsody will become the default music service on HP's vast computer line. In this position, it will enjoy an icon of its very own on the HP desktop. Customers will also be offered a one-month free trial to Rhapsody, which is a music rental service similar to that offered by the struggling Napster and Yahoo!.

HP's announcement comes as the Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas. The timing is somewhat of a slap against former CEO Carly Fiorina, who did a dance of joy here at CES two years ago when she revealed the iPod reselling deal. New CEO Mark Hurd cancelled the iPod arrangement just a couple of months into his tenure and has now taken the anti-Apple stance one step further.

The move would seem to make sense for HP on a lot of levels. The success of the iPod and iTunes have helped drive business back to Apple – not HP. Even if iTunes is sitting on a PC, it's helping Apple's franchise.

Real presents a more neutral option and could be used to complement a new fleet of HP portable devices.

Apple shouldn't be too upset by the move. In a way, it does lose a large channel for iTunes. Realistically, though, iTunes isn't a painful download, and anyone who wants it or has an iPod will grab it. ®

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