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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'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.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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