Zune: Microsoft's new "iPod Killer"

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No secret there’s a few companies that would dearly love to knock iPod off the top of the digital music player mountain.

SanDisk have mutilated a lot of sheep since the rumours of Microsoft launching a white-earbud-killer surfaced – and over the weekend they finally named it:

Zune.

Is that ‘zoon’ or ‘z-YOU-n’ or… well, however it’s pronounced, it’s coming – possibly in October.

Actually, Zune is the brand, not just the player. "a family of hardware and software products" said Chris Stephenson, general manager of market for Microsoft’s entertainment and services.

There’s very little solid fact about the new breed of music player – no prices, no real details about any player/music service tie-ins (a la iPod/iTunes). I’ve heard on the grapevine that there’ll be ways of sharing music wirelessly with other ‘Zune’ devices – quite how that ties in with whatever DRM exists on the device (and it will exist) remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft plans and executes its
ascent of the white hill – one of the areas where Microsoft does not
excel, and does not have a monopoly. In this world, it’s all Apple’s.

For all the sheep, no-one has really made a significant dent on Apple’s market share. Sony? ’nuff said. Creative?

Oh, there’s some good players out there – not everyone has followed the
iPod crowd – but it’s a tough market to break into. I’d be impressed if
Microsoft become even a notable player. I think it’s going to be a
struggle – but they’ve got the cash to throw at the project, futile or
otherwise.

Still, it wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft have come in late to the party and monopolised the dance floor.

In the meantime, rumours of Apple’s next iPod offering tout it as featuring an e-Book reader.

Andy Merrett

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