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$399 for a 30GB Zune

The Zune info just keeps pouring and this time we're getting additional details from Digital Music News. The publication has seen various presentation materials sent to Microsoft partners which shed some more light on the portable media player that everyone seems to be talking about these days.

According to the materials, Microsoft will initially be targeting Zune at young adults in the 18-24 age bracket. In targeting this segment of the market, Microsoft hopes to piggyback on the success of the XBOX, XBOX 360 and XBOX Live -- which have been made popular by young adults -- and use its console platform as a launching pad for Zune.  Digital Music News reports:

The Xbox community itself will be an important starting point for the campaign. Upon launch, Microsoft will create an impact though a "7 cities in 7 nights" tour, which will involve big-name artists, key cities, and live performances that will be exclusively positioned as downloads "on the web and music store". Throughout, the messaging will be focused on the "device plus store". Big box retail outlets will offer a nice push. Sources note that the device will be “overwhelmingly sold at Target, Best Buy, and Walmart,” and nearly 30,000 retail outlets across the US. A Super Bowl spot is also reportedly in the works.

The Zune Live feature, which takes advantage of the device’s built-in WiFi, is also key to Microsoft's aim at capturing 20% of the market. Zune Live would be a community-based system that would allow Zune users and XBOX Live users to stay in touch and share content. Whether this will lead to some sort of MySpace-esque ecosystem for the portable media set remains to be seen. Digital Music News reports that WiFi sharing can take place between up to ten people within close proximity to each other. Users will be able to stream music from each other, but simply copying music and heading off into the sunset doesn't appear to be an option:

If a user wants to purchase shared material, tracks can be bookmarked and later purchased when the device is synched to the computer. Unclear is whether users can share unlicensed MP3 content, though they probably will not have that ability. Meanwhile, interesting community aspects will be embedded into the device, including features like friends lists.

And now we get to the rough part. Pricing looks to be on the high side with a 30GB model coming in at the price of a 60GB 5G iPod: $399. Apple's 30GB 5G iPod is $100 cheaper. Another more interesting downside is that the device will not feature wireless PC syncing. Wireless PC syncing would be a big boon for Zune, but Microsoft has perhaps implemented some proprietary WiFi protocol in the device which would make wireless syncing impossible. USB connectivity, however, will be available for both PCs and XBOX consoles. The device will also be incompatible with existing PlaysForSure music services as Microsoft looks to a one-brand music store strategy similar to iPod + iTunes. All signs point to the recently launched MTV/Microsoft URGE music store.

Microsoft is hoping to launch the new player in three colors this November in the States with a worldwide launch coming early next year.

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WHAT ???
By das mod on 7/18/2006 2:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
with those prices, is nothing but downhill for this device ...

RE: WHAT ???
By rrsurfer1 on 7/18/2006 2:25:15 PM , Rating: 2
That is a high price.

Who wants to bet there will be a hack for this to allow you to transfer files :)

RE: WHAT ???
By Some1ne on 7/18/2006 3:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
If it did allow (officially, or otherwise) the unrestricted copying of files over a giant ad-hoc wifi network composed of Zune users, each one carrying 30 GB of downloadable content, I'd be willing to pay $399 with it.

Having devices designed to try to enforce all this DRM stuff is just BS.

RE: WHAT ???
By kitchme on 7/18/2006 8:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
Even in that case, I wouldn't pay that much. I've got my own music ready for transfer, and plus MS would never allow that in any case. Maybe it would allow you to see others' playlist and you could purchase music that way, but not to have unrestricted copying. Not impressed with price nor with the look of it. It looks like a generic iPod. Count me out...

RE: WHAT ???
By Wolfpup on 7/20/2006 4:14:51 PM , Rating: 1
I agree. Looks like a generic iPod-and for more money, what's the point.

Silly, but personally I'd rather support Apple if the price is similar...let alone if it's $100 cheaper! Plus Apple supports MPEG4 which like everything uses and their are trillions of free convertors for, while this is probably locked in to WMV, which is near useless IMO.

RE: WHAT ???
By Wolfpup on 7/20/2006 4:17:24 PM , Rating: 1
Oh, and another thing...I sure wish this had been a portable game system like the early rumors said! We've already got 1001 MP3 players on the market-heck, the iPod on it's own covers the market just fine IMO. But I *LOVE* games, and I *LOVE* portable game systems, so wouldn't have minded another entry into the space. Although only if it used physical media-and not sure if Microsoft could engineer something like the PSP (ie Sony was in a rare position to bring all the technology together).

Eh, oh well. With the Nintendo DS, Playstation Portable, and even still the Gameboy Advance all going strong, I guess there's no real need for another portable!

RE: WHAT ???
By One43637 on 7/18/2006 2:32:39 PM , Rating: 2

when you're trying to break into a market dominated by one company, pricing your product that much more is going to be a tough sell.

RE: WHAT ???
By epsilonparadox on 7/18/2006 2:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
The sad part about this is, its the same team thats snubbing sony for charging so much for the ps3.

RE: WHAT ???
By segagenesis on 7/18/2006 2:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
Having an iPod I'm kind of biased reading about this device, but regardless that is indeed somewhat high. I agree it will be more difficult to compete this way, I would think with the large amount of cash reserves Microsoft could "force win" the market by undercutting Apple. As such, this seems like it will not be the case.

Even worse possibly for Microsoft, is that Apple despite having a lions share is not the only player in a crowded market...

RE: WHAT ???
By epsilonparadox on 7/18/2006 2:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
I think MS isn't really targeting the Ipod marketshare as much as consolidating the PlayForSure marketshare under Zune. That should account for the 20% they're figuring.

RE: WHAT ???
By whalenapp81 on 7/18/2006 2:55:13 PM , Rating: 2
i think that 20% is good goal, for "the future" whenever that maybe, 20% marketshare is attainable, but it will take 5-7 years for that to happen, i still say they should bundle it with computers, to help increase marketshare.

RE: WHAT ???
By Orpheus333 on 7/22/2006 12:14:39 PM , Rating: 2
bundling is what gets M$ sued for being a monopoly.

Not that bad of an idea IMO.

What's in their mind?
By Scrogneugneu on 7/18/2006 7:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, let's look at the market's position for everyone :

Situation #1 : I have an iPod. I paid a high price for it. And I have a lot of songs for my iPod. Only playing on my iPod. Why would I buy that?

Situation #2 : I have another mp3 player. I paid a high price for it. And I have a lot of songs for it. I could fork out 400$ to get a Zune, but why should I do it? I'm satisfied with my current player, it sure does the job.

Situation #3 : I have another mp3 player. I paid a low price for it, since it's flash-based. I have a lot of songs anyway (I mean, you really can fit a lot of songs on 1GB). I could get a Zune, but it would cost me a lot of money. There's likely a reason why I went with a cheaper, flash-based player. If I changed my mind and did want 30GB of space (you never know when you're gonna need 6000 songs real fast), then I'd have the choice between an established brand, the iPod, or 100$ more and a Zune. Both will only work with specific music content. We'll see what I get if I choose to get something else.

Situation #4 : I still have no mp3 player. I'm willing to get one. The thing I want to do with it is listening to music. The last thing I want to get is a player that will only work with half what the market offers. I have 4 choices : get an iPod, and be stuck with their format. Get a Zune (for more $$), and still be stuck with their format. Get another brand of mp3 player hard-disk based, getting a huge capacity and the ability to listen to any music. Get another brand of mp3 player flash based, getting a small capacity for a small price, but still having the ability to listen to any music.

So, who's buying a Zune?

RE: What's in their mind?
By rrsurfer1 on 7/18/2006 9:05:35 PM , Rating: 2
Situation 1: The songs you have on iTunes will be automatically purchased for you on URGE, for FREE. This is Microsofts big plan to get people to switch from iPod. It also has a bigger screen than iPod, plus wireless streaming. FM radio and recording.

Situation 2: No player has the wireless streaming feature that Zune will have. You can tune in to other people Zune's, which I think is pretty neat. In addition you have a bigger screen than other players, as well as (hopefully) better battery life.

Situation 3: Flash is a different type of player. THe anti-shock and non-mechanical nature is nice and targets another subset of the market.

Situation 4: Well, you can't listen to ANY music with any player thats not the Zune or iPod. Specifically, any iTMS or Urge songs will not play due to the proprietary formats.

RE: What's in their mind?
By Scrogneugneu on 7/18/2006 11:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
A bigger screen = more power required to light it up.
Wireless capacity = more power required to have it working.

I don't really expect the battery life to be anywhere near good on those. Plus, I can't see the need to pay 400$ to get a bigger screen, wireless streaming (although it's an interesting idea) and FM radio. If I already have an iPod, 400$ is not worth the features on the Zune. The same applies to any other mp3 player of equivalent quality/size/price.

The point is, I want to listen to music. I can get it with a dirt cheap flash based mp3 player, or a bigger hard-drive based one. Considering I have to pay 400$ to just have the player, it's a lot of money. I can get 8 DVD players for that price. Or a Wii, and some games. Or a dirt cheap computer probably running Linux / OpenOffice. Maybe even a cheap flight to somewhere.

I mean, it's a hard-disk, a screen and a sound chip. I don't want to pay that much for such a simple device. Coming from someone who doesn't own any mp3 player yet, this is valuable for both the iPod and the Zune.

RE: What's in their mind?
By ElFenix on 7/21/2006 12:43:29 AM , Rating: 2
bigger screen, but the player is ridicumongously huge. who knows, by the end of the year apple might have a screen this big, and wifi or some other wireless method to connect to your computer/itms, but apple will make the screen a touch screen so that the player is smaller and more pocketable.

plus, itms is selling tv shows, which will be a good reason to have the screen (much better than trying to sell me stuff, which it seems like all MS is using the screen for at the moment).

as for FM radio, big f-ing deal. how many people have really bought one player over another only becuase one featured FM radio? the reason you bought an MP3 player in the first place is because everything on the radio is crap.

Apple can sue over Ipod look
By Randalllind on 7/18/06, Rating: 0
By IntelUser2000 on 7/18/2006 3:21:32 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like a ipod the touch circle etc so I think they will be faceing a lawsuit. It looks too much like a Ipod.

Plus its uglier than the IPOD.

RE: Apple can sue over Ipod look
By AkaiRo on 7/18/2006 5:44:38 PM , Rating: 2
Apple can't sue over the touch circle. If they did, then every manufacturer of a old high-end VCRs and tape recorders that used a jog and shuttle wheel could open a can of whoopass on Apple. Apple didn't create an innovation with the circular navigation control, they simply used a common interface.

RE: Apple can sue over Ipod look
By kitchme on 7/18/2006 8:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it looks more like a retarded iPod.

Misreporting Information
By MrDiSante on 7/18/2006 3:49:27 PM , Rating: 3
This is ridiculous, even the source (however accurate or inaccurate it may be) never said that the price is going to be 399. It simply stated that 'According to the sources, the device will offer 30GB of storage, though it will deliver the "same pricing, look and feel as the 60GB iPod". That would suggest a retail price of $399'. It clearly states that their source IMPLIED a 399$ (and even that is pushing it a bit far in my opinion). Personally I doubt Microsoft is going to charge as much for a 30GB player as it does for its console. And if it will, they can go bugger themselves cause I will get a Zen Vision : M for 250.

RE: Misreporting Information
By epsilonparadox on 7/18/2006 3:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it too since they seem to be on a roll with Urge and talking to 3rd party accessory makers. Until MS officially reveals the final price, I'll be keeping an open mind about it.

I WAS excited about more.
By theapparition on 7/19/2006 7:36:34 AM , Rating: 1
I was looking forward to this device. I wanted to get a player towards the end of this year. Currently, I use my Axim with about 8Gb of flash for music, movies, pictures, and actual work (go figure!). Battery life is miserable at around 4 hours, and if I turn wi-fi on, forget it. Also have way more than 8Gb of music and would like to get my entire collection on disk. My wife has an iPod, which she loves.

Let me say, I hate Apple. Not because they make bad hardware, since their hardware is very nicely designed. I don't like the closed nature of the formats they have. Also, Mac users in general are elitest snobs who have been dealing with inferior harware for years, yet blindly insisting that its better. In three years, Apple will come out with an updated iPod with an actual FM player embedded and everyone will hail Steve Jobs as an innovator. Dumb ass lemmings......No innovation comes out of the Mac community unless it comes from Apple.

So I was seriously looking for a competitor that would fit my needs. This Zune looked to be very promising from the beginning. Now, (I know everything is rumors now), it looks like it just another wanna-be in the overcrowed market.
Here's what I think would make an iPod killer(<--way overused media phrase-BTW)
1) Compatible with Plays for Sure, AAC, WMF, and lossless formats like OOG, etc. Ability to transfer licenses from one format to another. Microsoft's play to automatically download versions of a users iTunes database is a great idea.
2) Needs to be compatible with iPods docking port connector and accessories. I've got a new HD radio Alpine car stereo-natively connects to an iPod that i can stick into my console and control right from the head unit. Have connected my wifes up to it and it works fast and flawlessly. It needs to work with that. How about all the accessories that are out there for iPods. Why would anyone want to buy something that wasn't fully supported with accessories around every corner?
3) Look stylish, be innovative (but not too radical), and easy to use (not my requirement, for all the lemmings....)
4) Wi-fi is great, but absoultely has to sync with computer.
5)Price. Need I say more? When trying to knock the market leader from its perch, you have to come out with a much better product at the same price, or a similar one at lower price. This Zune fails both these tests.
6) Probably other ideas, but that's all I can think of now.

The Creative Zen is a better player in almost every way. Better sound quality, FM, Recorder, more compatible, etc.
What stops me is it costs more, and is not compatible with the Apple interface port. If it was priced more in the $200 range, Creative would have a winner. But someone should answer why I should pay more for something that is not as widespread?

Well, it looks like Apple, as much as it pains me to say so.

RE: I WAS excited about more.
By ChugokuOtaku on 7/19/2006 11:28:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure you mean lossless formats like flac or ape right? ogg is a lossy format.

who cares about iPod's docking port? just give me a standard non-proprietary USB mini-B connector, so I can connect it to any computer I want to without carrying around a proprietary dongle. And if it's a car's headunit that you're worrying about, I can say that most cars should, and eventually will have a 3.5mm audio jack aux input. You said it yourself, ppl hate proprietary hardware, and Apple's docking port is as proprietary as it gets.

As for software dependency, I think it's fine to have a iTunes similar application to handle music libraries for those too challenged to manage them in folders. However, it should ALWAYS give users the options to drag and drop from explorer like an external mass storage unit.

By theapparition on 7/19/2006 3:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'll agree with you on almost all points.

Definitely have drag and drop capability without the stupid syncing required if the user is so inclined. As for the formats, your correct there.

I'd love to have a standard mini-usb connection, but how many accessories have them now? Remember, were talking about a huge amount of peripherals that work with the iPod docking connector. I don't like it either.......but it is here to stay. Can't beat em, join em.....comes to mind.
As for the car stereo, you just don't get it. Sure many have a headset jack to play back from. But the better way would be to control the player THROUGH the head unit, and not have to play it while driving. And with steering wheel controls, I can control it without even taking my hands off the wheel. The player could be installed under the seat, in the glove compartment, etc. That's slick. Or should I get some suction cup thingy to hold my MP3 player somewhere. Sorry, but a 2006 Corvette is not getting Velcro stuck ANYWHERE!!!!!
While I am not hung up on ergonomics and pretty technical(and I suspect that most people in these forums are), we have to remember that most of the buying population is. Style can sell more than features sometimes, when you and I just shake our heads and wonder what were they thinking. We're also talking about a majority of the population that don't know how to set their VCR's clock(<--wow, do they even exist anymore) and leave it blinking 12:00 forever.
And just to close, We hate proprietary solutions, general people take whatever is shoved down their throats. If not, then why would Sony still be in business???

How's Urge?
By VooDooAddict on 7/18/2006 5:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone here use Urge now? anyone know how it compares to Napster?

I use the Napster to-go service and love the flat rate subscription for as much music as I can consume.

RE: How's Urge?
By Aquila76 on 7/18/2006 7:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know, too. Also, will MS have a buyback program like they reportedly will do for iTunes? I have a good number of tracks off of Napster (not bank-breaking, but enough to make me hesitate).

The device will also be incompatible with existing PlaysForSure music services as Microsoft looks to a one-brand music store strategy similar to iPod + iTunes. All signs point to the recently launched MTV/Microsoft URGE music store.

for shame
By Armorize on 7/19/2006 4:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
it all sounded good until i got to the last paragraph... their greed just pisses me off... ms is nuts to try and launch a competitor with higher prices and less funcionability.

RE: for shame
By MrDiSante on 7/19/2006 8:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
Once again. The source said that it will have similar interface and a list of 5 other features as well as pricing as the iPOD 60GB version. Personally I doubt MS is stupid enough to shoot themselves in the foot with such high pricing especially considering they've a history of letting divisions not go profitable for years and years (see xbox). Oh and it's got more "funcionability" (read: functionality, learn to spell buddy).

I am a microsoft fanboy
By Sharky974 on 7/20/2006 1:29:39 AM , Rating: 1
Based on the Xbox doubt one of the few, and maybe this is just Dailytech's anti-MS bias in the article, but this product sure doesn't sound or look very appealing.

The problem is MS, just like Apple, wants to control the whle pipeline connected to the device.

RE: I am a microsoft fanboy
By ElFenix on 7/21/2006 12:49:12 AM , Rating: 2
seeing as how controlling the whole pipeline is the only way to make money because any factory in china can put out an mp3 player, i don't blame MS or apple.

By KeithTalent on 7/18/2006 3:53:51 PM , Rating: 2
but now it looks as if I will just stay with my Gigabeat S. Too expensive and too restricting.

More under the hood
By lamestlamer on 7/19/2006 5:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
Remember, this thing is basically a PDA as far as horsepower is concerned. However, I don't see any input methodology. If instead, it is a cut down version of a UMPC with a stylus, then I could see this going far with games, PDA necessities, web browsing, music, video, etc..

If it is JUST an mp3 player, it will flop, no doubt. But with such a beefy processor and screen and wifi, I doubt that it is just an mp3 player.

By AppaYipYip on 7/21/2006 7:59:05 AM , Rating: 2
This is a joke, right?

What kind of idiot would buy such a thing? The iPod is the pinnicle of mp3 design and implementation.

By sxr7171 on 7/18/2006 2:53:13 PM , Rating: 1
These guys have a hope of selling these in any appreciable quantity. Let's hope for M$' sake that $399 is just MSRP and the thing will be sold for actually $300-320.

A serious misjudgement
By Detson on 7/18/2006 5:36:49 PM , Rating: 1
It's interesting that the Zune isn't compatible with Plays-for-Sure; it seems as though they're copying the worst aspect of the iPod (the lack of competing music stores) along with its best. Microsoft should just concentrate on making Urge dirt simple to use, and compete on the basis of catalog size.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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