As the Consumer Electronics Show looms, many Microsoft watchers' eyes are turned to the Zune and the expected "Zune Mobile" platform announcement.
A couple of new blog postings regarding Microsoft's music marketplace goals got me thinking more about what might be part of Zune Mobile -- as well as the broader category of premium mobile services aimed at consumers.
Microsoft isn't sharing details publicly yet as to what it is lumping into the Zune Mobile/premium services buckets. Until officials do talk, it's fun to speculate and wonder aloud.
* Will the company make Windows Live for Mobile part of this set of premium mobile services offerings? (Or maybe not, if "premium" is the equivalent of "paid.")
* When will services from the Danger team Microsoft acquired make their Win Mobile debut?
* What about its TellMe voice-query service (which is available now for the Blackberry but still not yet for Windows Mobile)?
*Will Live Mesh play a role in any of this? (Given the rather blank stares I've gotten whenever I ask Zune/Xbox folks about Live Mesh, I'm doubtful.) Could Live Mesh be used to sync video/audio content across Windows/Windows Mobile/Xbox/Zune?
(I asked Microsoft officials a few weeks back about how/when/whether users could "meshify" their Xboxes and got this response, via a spokesperson:
"Having your Xbox or your Zune as part of your Mesh (as native devices) is definitely something we are looking at from a scenario POV (as they are part of your digital life) and one added benefit of some of our investments over the past years in identity means that because xbox/zune use the same identity store, a chunk of the problem is solved.")
* Remember Zune VideoX? The marketplace project supposedly headed up by Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore? I wouldn't be surprised to see those services/technologies featured prominently in whatever kind of Zune Mobile platform Microsoft ends up fielding.
* And what about Seadragon Mobile? After all, Microsoft's Live Labs team managed to get its Seadragon image-viewing technology ported to the iPhone. In fact, Seadragon Mobile is the first Microsoft app/service that is for sale via the iPhone Store.
(An aside: Given problems that the Silverlight and other teams at Microsoft said they have had in getting Apple to agree to sell their wares on the iPhone store, I wondered how the Seadragon team managed to overcome these hurdles. I asked and received the following statement via a Live Labs spokesperson:
"The Seadragon Mobile demo on the iPhone is a self contained application, which is what the iPhone SDK (software development kit) is designed to support. Like all other iPhone applications available from 3rd parties today, it does not provide a handler or plug-in for the browser to support rich media or interactivity inline. Rather it runs as its own application, must be downloaded separately from the app store, and does not interoperate with the browser or other applications on the phone. Flash, Silverlight, and other plug-ins don't fit the model provided by the current iPhone SDK, as they require integration into the browser. So, Seadragon is possible today as a standalone demo.")
What other kinds of services would you hope to see delivered as part of a Zune Mobile platform that would span PCs, mobile devices and gaming consoles?