It is now official, the Microsoft Zune will be out in time for the holidays. I assume this means we'll probably see devices available in November and maybe even October if we are lucky. I was unimpressed with the new Apple iPod announcements since I wanted to see something with a larger display. As a MacBook Pro owner I would probably have been over at the Apple Store that day with a more compelling announcement. Cesar Menendez is a Microsoft employee whorking on the Zune project and I highly recommend checking out his blog with links to some great Zune coverage. Apparently, some music bloggers were invited to Microsoft campus last week and had a chance to get a sneak peek at the device. I particularly enjoyed the 3hive and Sterogum blog entries.
I now know what will be on my Christmas list, but doubt I'll be able to wait that long and will probably make the purchase as soon as they are available. The larger display, ability to share and purchase tunes via WiFi, and the unlimited subscription service have swayed me to not buy an iPod at this time and wait for the Zune launch. There was no pricing information given for the 30GB media player or more specifics like what type of formats it will be compatible with, what type of connections it uses (USB, miniUSB, or proprietary), so we'll have to keep our eyes on the Zune sites to track down this information as it becomes available. I think I like the brown model and am saving up for mine right now.
Microsoft is definitely trying to help with the "shared community" experience like it obtained with the Xbox Live service and this is actually one feature that I find attractive for the Zune. I will be able to share and receive songs from friends, coworkers, and others and listen to it 3 times over a 3 day period and if I like it then I can tag it to purchase or add to my subscription service right then and there. What a great way to share and discover more songs and artists. If I was a musician I would personally be quite excited about this type of community sharing that should increase exposure for many artists. I know I personally tend to only buy what I know I like and really need a subscription service or this ability to share songs to branch out and find some new, great music.
I also hope that podcasts are supported well on this new platform and music service as the wireless sharing could also be a great way to share and learn about podcasts from others who I hang out with or meet in different situations. I think Microsoft is starting to think outside the box in many areas of the company and look forward to seeing what innovators can do with the backing of a large company. What do you think of the Zune?