Microsoft Zune phone coming by end of 2007?

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(Picture from CrunchGear)

CrunchGear broke the story yesterday and now it’s spreading around the Net like wildfire: the very real possiblity (according to sources) that Microsoft is working on a Zune mobile phone that could be ready by the end of the year.

CG’s sources suggest that it’ll be a smartphone that works with the Zune marketplace and can sync with the Xbox 360. It will run an interface similar to that of Zune, rather than Windows Mobile, which makes sense if it’s building on the Zune’s capabilities.

The rationale behind allowing it to sync with Xbox 360s? Market penetration, and the ability to stream movies over the net via the Xbox and get them onto the phone.

As with all rumours and whisperings, there’s not much more to go on than that at present, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about it over the coming months.

What’s interesting is that neither Apple nor Microsoft have their own mobile phone on the market, so it could be argued that the playing field could be more level when it comes to how they compete with one another. They’ll both be playing catch up to the major mobile players though, and it’ll be interesting to see how they both attack the market.

What Apple have is a loyal following, and a huge hold on the MP3 player market – something Microsoft can’t yet say about their Zune. If both companies choose to play on the strengths of their respective media players, Apple has the upper hand.

Microsoft certainly have the clout and the cash to bring something to market in this time frame, particularly if there’s been R&D going on behind closed doors. It’ll be a very busy year for them, though, with lots of shiny new offerings: Vista, Office, Zune, Zune phone.

How much will Ballmer shout and jump about in 2007?

Andy Merrett

2 comments

  • “by synching XBox with a ZPhone, they’ll have an instant multi-million member audience.”

    And this is brilliant how?

    A phone that you have to sync to a game machine in order for it to have value? Who wants to get the hard-drive Xbox (or any other game machine) just so they can get music or video to their phone? There are several better and more efficient ways of achieving the same goal.

    Not to mention duplication of effort. Syncing things like calenders, contacts, email, etcetera would still require linking to a computer. Who wants to waste time syncing to two big expensive boxes?

    It would be better for Microsoft to stop forcing unnatural links to the Xbox and focus on what’s better for the user. Because I’m pretty confident that the vast number of Xbox users already have computers. And there are far more people with computers than Xboxes.

    Oh, and while were at it, didn’t Balmer recently talk about millions of phones running on WinCE or whatever? How happy are the companies selling these devices going to be to find out that Microsoft is going to come out with their own device? Not exactly playing nice with their partners I would say.

    Has Zune been worth the cost of trust from Microsoft’s parnters in the MP3 market? Will the Zune phone be worth the loss of trust from their partners in the phone market?

    Ranma

  • “What Apple have is a loyal following, and a huge hold on the MP3 player market – something Microsoft can’t yet say about their Zune.”

    True – at this point. But what MSFT has that Apple doesn’t is a huge and loyal following in the gaming market, a la XBox. And by synching XBox with a ZPhone, they’ll have an instant multi-million member audience.

    Gene from ZuneChannel.com

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