Many people are freaking out over the Hermès Apple Watch, as if it were the first time a non-Apple corporate logo had appeared on a consumer product. "Can you even imagine Steve Jobs approving of a Hermes-branded 'Apple' Watch?", Brian S. Hall asked on Twitter. Yes, actually. Because much stranger partnerships have happened.
The HP iPod
The HP-branded iPod was announced in January of 2004 at CES. Initially available as a 4th generation iPod, the iPod+HP shipped with an HP logo on the back and was distributed and supported by HP (Apple did not support the iPod+HP). Eventually, HP-branded iPod photo, shuffle and mini were available. It was discontinued in 2005.
The Harry Potter iPod
In January, 2005 Apple helped promote the availability of Harry Potter audio books with a Potter-branded iPod. The 20 GB, 4th generation device featured the Hogwarts crest engraved on the back and was made available to those who purchased the complete set of Potter audio books.
The U2 iPod
Back in the heady days of 2004, Bono and friends whipped up a promotional U2-branded iPod. The 20 GB device featured a striking red-and-black color scheme and, you guessed it, band branding on the back, in the form of the logo and band members' signatures.
The Motorola ROKR
Let's not forget this weird, pre-iPhone product with an "iTunes button" and unpleasant version of the iTunes Store experience. On second thought, let's forget it entirely.
By the way, does anyone remember the keynote that introduced this thing? You could totally tell that Steve Jobs just hated it.
The point here is that non-Apple branding on a consumer product isn't new. Sure, an Apple TV with "Sony" on the lid would be weird, but that's not what's happening with the Hermès Apple Watch. Since the very first announcement, Apple has been promoting the Watch as a fashion accessory, and aligning with a big name in that industry is an extension of that strategy.
The HP iPod was weird; a Hermès Apple Watch makes total sense.