Cardboard display mockups of the 2G Zunes and flash Zune  (Source: Zune-Online)

2G Zune and flash Zune renderings  (Source: Gizmodo)
New Microsoft Zune models to launch tomorrow for holiday shopping

When Microsoft decided to enter the portable media player field with the original Zune, its goal was to dethrone Apple’s iPod as the media player of choice. That never happened; the Zune didn’t take off as Microsoft had hoped it would.

BetaNews is reporting that Microsoft will hold a press event tomorrow, with Bill Gates on hand, to launch the Zune 2.0. The first generation Zune was able to claim 10 percent of the hard drive based portable media player market, amounting to about 3 percent of the overall media player market.

One of the things that the new Zune 2.0 will offer is a thinner profile than the chunky first generation Zune players.  Microsoft is rolling out a new flash based Zune at the press event sized along the lines of the iPod nano at 3-inches by 1.25-inches.

These small flash-based Zune's are reported to be video and WiFi capable and will have higher storage capacities than competing products from Apple. One could gather from that last statement that the flash based Zune 2.0 would be available in 8GB and perhaps even in a 16GB capacity.

Microsoft will reportedly manufacture about 2.4 million Zune 2.0 devices for the holiday season. Two thirds of these devices are expected to be the flash based players. The new Zunes are expected to be available in November along with Microsoft’s new line of Zune accessories. Pricing information on the new Zune products is unavailable at this time, but expect pricing to be very competitive with similar offerings from Apple.

A Microsoft patent application recently uncovered by DailyTech shows a new social aspect to the Zune player that allows Zune users to subscribe to playlists. The timing of the application leads many to believe this service will be part of the new Zune 2.0 as well.

Updated 10/1/07
Engadget is reporting that its sources suggest that the official launch will be on Wednesday. In addition, Engadget has a picture of the original Zune running 2.1 firmware and Zune-Online has leaked pics of the new flash Zune and slimmed down 2nd gen HDD-based Zune.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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