"You Forgot My Pickle Again" (1/9/04)

This just in: AtAT operatives have provided us with covert video footage of the first closed-door meeting between Steve Jobs and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, at which Carly raised the issue of rebranding the iPod! We can't post the video itself, because our mole kept leaning into the frame and making goofy faces at the camera, apparently oblivious to the fact that when filming illicit video in direct violation of nondisclosure agreements and trade secret laws, it's generally a bad idea to slap your own face all over the evidence. Rather than spend tedious hours digitally altering his appearance to protect his identity (some of us don't have the free time to go sticking iPods into twenty-year-old footage), we figured we'd just give you a transcript:

[Ms. Fiorina knocks, enters Steve's office.]

Carly: Steve?

Steve: Just leave it on the desk, there. And you forgot my pickle last time, so you can forget about a tip.

Carly: No, Steve, it's me-- Carly.

Steve: Carly?

Carly: From HP?

Steve: HP? What's that?

Carly: Hewlett-Packard. I'm the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. I have an appointment, remember?

Steve: [Eyes narrowing] Who are you really?

[This, inexplicably, goes on for about fifteen minutes. Once identities have finally been established:]

Carly: Okay, now that we've got that settled, I'm here because I want to sell iPods.

Steve: Oh, sure, that's no problem. Dell used to sell them, too, you know, until the mind-control ray wore off.

Carly: Great, but there's just a few changes we want to make.

Steve: Changes?

Carly: Right. For one thing, we don't want to call them iPods. Our market research shows that the name is insufficiently descriptive for the Wintel consumer market, which is apt to become confused when faced with such a challenge. So we want to call it the "HP Digital Music Player."

Steve: Catchy.

Carly: Yeah, we thought so. Also, we don't want them to be white.

Steve: No white.

Carly: Right. In order to match our other products, we need them to be HP Blue.

[She hands him a color swatch which matches the prototype shown at MacMinute as pointed out by faithful viewer The Professor.]

Steve: I once saw a dead body this color.

Carly: Hey, who hasn't? That's why it tests so well among our target market. Lastly, we want to take the Apple logo off the back and replace it with the HP logo, just so any customers not tipped off by the delicate corpse-like hue and the catchy name will be sure to understand that this is an HP product, even though all we're doing is changing the name and the color of the plastic.

Steve: But the Apple logo will still appear on the screen when the thing is turned on.

Carly: Oh, that's fine-- our market research shows that most of our customers will never figure out how to turn it on anyway.

Steve: But you just press any button.

Carly: Exactly.

[Awkward silence.]

Steve: Rrrrright. Well, I think we can manage all that. Let me just run it by Jon, who designed the iPod for us. [Presses intercom button] Jon? Can you come in here for a second?

[Jonathan Ive descends through the ceiling, floating in the lotus position and bathed in a celestial glow.]

Steve: I told you to knock that off during work hours.

Jon: Right, sorry. What's up?

Steve: Well, Carrie here--

Carly: Carly.

Steve: Karin here--

Carly: CARLY.

Steve: Doris here--

[Fast-forward twenty minutes.]

Steve: Betsy here--

[Ms. Fiorina sighs raggedly.]

Steve: --wants you to cook her up a batch of iPods for sale in June, but here's the thing: they're going to be renamed the "HP Digital Music Player," you'll have to replace the Apple logo on the back with the HP logo, and you need to make them in this mouldering-carcass blue-grey sorta deal.

[Jobs holds up the color swatch. Ive immediately goes fetal in the corner, sucks his thumb, and emits indistinct whimpering noises. Jobs turns back to Fiorina.]

Steve: Cool, so no problem, we'll have 'em ready for you in two weeks.

Carly: Two weeks?

Steve: October.

Carly: October?!

Steve: [Eyes narrowing] Who are you really?...

So there you have it, folks: the birth of a ground-breaking high-tech deal. The agreement wasn't finalized until late Wednesday night when Carly produced a driver's license, a valid passport, a birth certificate, several family photos, dozens of news clippings about her, and haggard Canadian rocker Neil Young to personally testify as to her identity, but as you can see, most of the groundwork was laid earlier. We know, we know; Carly's been going around telling people that Apple came to HP, but video doesn't lie-- unless it's of an alien autopsy or a moon landing or something outrageous like that. We've got the goods, baby! And you trust us, right?

Wait-- who are you people, anyway?...

SceneLink (4435)
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The above scene was taken from the 1/9/04 episode:

January 9, 2004: If you thought yesterday's HewlettPod announcement was a surprise to you, wait'll you hear how Microsoft and Dell felt. Meanwhile, another Expo grinds to a halt even as scads of exhibitors choose to shun the July show in Boston, and AtAT has the real story behind yesterday's historic HP-Apple music deal...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4433: "Who? When? Whuzza?" (1/9/04)   Okay, we've had a day for the news to sink in, now, and we think we've finally gotten our heads wrapped around yesterday's whole "HP-branded iPod" curve ball. For those of you who spent the day with your heads stuck inside a large wheel of cheese (replica or otherwise), Hewlett-Packard and Apple stunned the world yesterday by announcing that, starting this summer, HP will be selling a rebranded version of the iPod and preloading iTunes for Windows on all of its consumer Wintels, with desktop icon links to the iTunes Music Store...

  • 4434: MWExpo Boston: "Spacious!" (1/9/04)   Meanwhile, we've come to the end of yet another Macworld Expo, and reaction to it so far has been somewhat mixed. Folks watching from home were largely underwhelmed by the Stevenote announcements, which amounted to miniPods (at a higher-than-expected price point), iLife '04 (and the related disappearance of iPhoto and iMovie as free downloads), and G5 Xserves (which most people will never have any reason to buy in the first place)...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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