Microsoft's answer to the iPod is coming out Tuesday November 14th in the US (scheduled for release in 2007 in Europe). With the Playstation 3 and the Wii coming out, the end of this year 2006 is definitely high-tech.
It took Microsoft 5 years to react to the Apple's iPod, but the wait is now over: the Zune is here.
The highly anticipated MP3 player will offer a 30GB hard drive, WiFi connectivity, and a very large 3.0" screen to watch movies, TV shows or music videos. The Zune will also feature an FM tuner, something missing from all the iPods.
The device itself is slightly larger and bulkier than an iPod video and will therefore not be suitable for joggers who will most likely stick with their iPod nanos.
Microsoft designed the Zune on the principals of "sharing, discovery and community". Indeed, you will be able to connect your Zune to your friends' Zune and exchange music or video files. You will also be able to connect to your PC, Mac and even Microsoft's console Xbox 360 and download your content wirelessly. The Zune-to-Zune exchange however comes with a twist: you will not actually download the song from your friend's Zune to yours, but actually stream the song from it. In other words, the mp3 file itself will stay on your friend's device and you will only be able to flag it on your device and purchase it easily from the Zune Marketplace later.
In an interview he gave to Newsweek for the iPod's 5th anniversary, Steve Jobs didn't seem really concerned by the Zune-to-Zune feature and said:
"Iâ€™ve seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time youâ€™ve gone through all that, the girlâ€™s got up and left! Youâ€™re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then youâ€™re connected with about two feet of headphone cable."
I've never personally tried the "plug my earbud in your ear" approach with a girl, but I guess I can see his point.
Another concern about the Zune will come from its connectivity with other non-Microsoft devices and software. You can pretty much forget about transferring all your mp3s purchased on iTunes or Napster, they will most likely not work on your Zune. Your music will have to be purchased from the Zune Marketplace or ripped from the last CDs you bought from Tower Records before all their stores close.
The Zune Marketplace will be similar to iTunes in the sense that it will play the role of a jukebox and music store at the same time. For some reason however, Microsoft decided that you will not buy your music/videos with dollars but with what they call Microsoft Points. These Microsoft Points will probably be the currency used by all Microsoft products from now on. I can easily imagine it being used to buy games on the Xbox 360 or even earned in the next generation Multiplayer games.
All in all, the Zune appears to be a very interesting product and possible serious challenger for the iPod. Apple's has been reported to work on a new version of the iPod feature a full sized touch-screen: no more actual buttons anywhere, the iPod will be a screen. Period.
Competition between Microsoft and Apple is great for us customers and I can't wait to see what they will do to get our dollars (or Microsoft Points!).
Let the war begin!
Copyright © 2010 Ariel
Copyright © 2010 Ariel
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