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Microsoft readies slimmer HDD-based Zune and a new flash-based Zune

Microsoft's answer to Apple's popular iPod family of players was first launched in mid-November 2006. The $249 player promised to change the way we socialize with portable audio devices while at the same time offering the Zune Marketplace which is Microsoft's equivalent to iTunes.

The original Zune came in three colors (white, black and brown) and featured a 30GB HDD, 4" color screen, built-in FM tuner and WiFi connectivity for "3-day-or-3-play" wireless music sharing. At launch, Microsoft also made available 100 limited edition hot pink Zunes which quickly made the rounds on eBay for insane prices. Recently, Microsoft added a fourth official color to the Zune family: pink.

While Apple is already celebrating 100 million iPods sold nearly six years into its initial launch, Microsoft has more sedate figures for its Zune. Microsoft expects to top the one million mark by next month and is right now holding on to roughly 2.4% of the MP3 player market compared to 73.7%, 9% and 3.3% for Apple, SanDisk and Creative respectively -- all of which have flash-based players in their lineups.

Microsoft may be falling behind in the portable media player market, but that isn't stopping the company from building a new manufacturing plant in China to produce its Zune. The plant will produce a second generation HDD-based Zune and the long-rumored flash-based Zune.

The second generation HDD-based Zune will be both smaller and lighter than the Toshiba-sourced first generation model. The new Zune will be new-from-the-ground-up with Microsoft playing a major role in the design. "There are definitely some cost efficiencies, but the more important thing from our perspective is the flexibility and control we have in creating a device from scratch and making it down to the last component what we want it to be," said Jason Reindorp, marketing director for the Zune.

Microsoft is also hard at work on a flash-based Zune to take on the iPod Nano. Flash-based players make up an overwhelming majority of Apple iPod sales, so Microsoft would be remiss not to follow suit. Microsoft will likely target the Nano as far as size and weight is concerned. Also expect maximum storage capacities of at least 8GB (as seen with current iPod Nanos). A 16GB model shouldn’t be ruled out considering fast-dropping NAND flash prices.



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By Eurasianman on 5/15/2007 12:56:25 PM , Rating: -1
You just don't give up, do you?

Anyways... as of now, Zune is crap as of now, IMO.

Hopefully, this new facility will allow the Zune to be more competetive than it is.


By Oregonian2 on 5/15/2007 2:00:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hopefully, this new facility will allow the Zune to be more competetive than it is.


Would just allow them to sell it cheaper for the same margins (or to have better margins).

But if it's "their" facility, they possibly could move mouse and xbox manufacturing there too (depending upon their contracts with their current builders).


By mcturkey on 5/15/2007 8:14:16 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect that this facility would not be usable for a future console alongside the Zune, simply due to capacity constraints. That being said, Microsoft has seen how poorly the Chinese companies they contracted have been building the 360, and want better control over quality next time around. So testing the waters with a lower volume product like the Zune makes sense. Lessons learned from this venture can be applied to production of the next XBOX (which means that plans for any manufacturing facility need to be decided on within 2-2.5 years in order to be ready for full production by summer of 2011 or so). Two years sounds like a pretty reasonable time frame for learning how to do your own manufacturing.


By zombiexl on 5/15/2007 3:07:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You just don't give up, do you?

No, I dont.

I dont like IPod or Zune right now. Both have their issues.

Now if I could just get a ZuneBox720 I'd be happy.. (Sorry had to say it) :)


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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