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.
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.