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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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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???

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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