Catching up to Apple will require a lot of time and money says Microsoft

While Microsoft plans out its Zune strategy, Apple's ongoing success with the iPod and iTunes continue to grow on a daily basis. Analysts are expecting that Microsoft's new Zune portable media player will be an iPod-killer, but Microsoft says it's not going to be easy. During a financial analysts meeting, Microsoft president of Entertainment and Devices Division Robbie Bach said "we think of this in the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. It is something that is going to take time. This is not a six-month initiative."

Despite the strong hold Apple has over the online music market as well as the portable media player market, Microsoft says that it's confident about gaining significant market share. The company recently said it would be spending a few hundred million to drive marketing and sales for its Zune brand. Interestingly, Microsoft will also be taking on its long time partners once Zune launches. Instead of directly competing with Apple, Microsoft had used a partnership approach, hoping that other third party vendors would help it grab market share for Microsoft's PlayForSure initiative.

Bach told reporters that despite the eminent launch of Zune, its partnership program will still continue. "PlayForSure continues as it is today," said Bach. "We're not just introducing Zune to do the same thing other people do." According to Bach, Microsoft is laying out a long term plan in excess of three years. In fact, Bach said that it may take up to five years. "We have to drive a new brand: Zune. We have to drive people who think about iPod as the brand to think about other things."

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