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Ad age's pick for 2003 Marketer of the Year followed its title role with a similarly impressive supporting one for 2004. Apple Computer wins kudos for even further product digital music innovation, including the iPod photo and a special edition black U2 iPod, as well as computer updates including a critically acclaimed iPod-like computer, called the G5.

2004 also marked a surprise twist for the notoriously insular Apple when it (wisely) began sharing its brand cachet and technology for the iPod. Apple struck a deal with Hewlett-Packard Co. in January to resell its famed music player under the HP banner. That alliance culminated in the August release of the Apple iPod From HP.

The almost identical Apple-branded unit pitched in familiar-looking white wire-type ads from Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, captured the imaginations of a whole new PC audience who by the end of September accounted for 6% of all iPods sold.

The iPod and iTunes store continue to dominate in the digital music world, with Apple extending its range through a host of top-notch partners including not only HP, but also Bose, BMW of North America and leading peripheral makers Alpine, Altec Lansing, Belkin, and Griffin Technologies to deliver innovative accessories. Users can drop their iPods into the Bose SoundDock at home, plug it into their Beamers (with steering wheel controls) on the road, and customize its look with downloaded and interchangeable wraps from HP. Ad campaigns from Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., continued to awe and inspire imitators with fresh creative but with the same feel as the original work.

And as if innovation and marketing success were not enough, Apple reaped financial rewards as well with the sale of 2 million iPods in the third quarter alone, which was more than it had sold in total since the intro in October 2001. Apple overall reported revenue of $2.35 billion, handily beating analyst estimates of $2.15 billion for Q3, with iPod alone generating 23% of that revenue.

U.S. ad budget $49.6 million

Jan.-Aug. 2004

down 28.5%

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