Zune HD: Trying to compete with yesterday's iPod Touch

Zune HD: Trying to compete with yesterday's iPod Touch

Summary: Microsoft is looking to go head-to-head with Apple's iPod Touch by introducing the Zune HD, a touch-screen multimedia player that will be capable of playing high definition movies, high definition radio and surfing the Web via a mobile version of Internet Explorer.Once again, when it comes to challenging Apple, Microsoft is a day late and a dollar short on this front.

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Microsoft is looking to go head-to-head with Apple's iPod Touch by introducing the Zune HD, a touch-screen multimedia player that will be capable of playing high definition movies, high definition radio and surfing the Web via a mobile version of Internet Explorer.

Once again, when it comes to challenging Apple, Microsoft is a day late and a dollar short on this front. For some time now, we've been talking about the iPod Touch as less of a music and video player but more of a handheld computer - capable of doing pretty much anything a PC can do by way of the apps. And already there's buzz that Apple will introduce an upgraded iPod Touch - something with a larger screen and more like a Tablet PC - at its worldwide developer's conference next month.

Microsoft did not announce pricing or capacity but told CNET's Ina Fried in an interview that the device will use flash memory. Interestingly enough, the company also told CNET that it will announce details of a new Zune-branded video service for the Xbox at next week's E3 conference.

That service will replace the current service but the company did not say specifically that the content will be play back on both the Zune and Xbox, CNET reported. Mary Jo Foley, however, reports on ZDNet's All About Microsoft blog that the new Zunes will be connected to the Xbox via the video service.

Apple, of course, already offers both movies and TV shows in standard definition and high definition for rent or purchase. The programming is compatible with PCs, Macs, iPods and AppleTV.

It's also unclear what, if anything, Microsoft will be doing to incorporate games into the ZuneHD. The company isn't giving any hints ahead of the E3 show next week. It did say, however, that it's not building a ZunePhone, though it does have long-term plans (at least a year or more) to offer Zune service on phones.

Hmmm. I wonder if there will be an iPhone app for that.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility

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121 comments
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  • My Goodness, Sam

    such an obvious troll for a story. I am shocked.

    Well, only somewhat.
    GuidingLight
    • I saw the tag on the front page...

      ...and thought "I bet Sam Diaz wrote that".

      No shocks there then.
      Sleeper Service
  • What about..

    people who want a good solid PMP without all that added garbage. I don't give a crap about a hand held computer. The current incarnation of the Zune is a better PMP than the iPod and I have a feeling the next one will be as well. What's wrong with a solid alternative?
    pdskep
    • The double standard is ASTOUNDING!!

      [i]What about.. people who want a good solid PMP without all that added garbage. I don't give a crap about a hand held computer.[/i]

      The funny thing is that 2 years ago, this was [b]exactly[/b] the argument that Apple apologists used to justify buying the iPod instead of other MP3 players.
      [i]Who cares if they have FM radio? Who cares if they have copy and paste? Who cares if you can install programs on them? I want the best portable media player and don't need all the extra fluff that the others have.[/i]

      These Apple apologists have no morals whatsoever.
      NonZealot
      • Not exactly...

        People who only want a music player buy the ipod over the zune. Unless there's far more to this product people wanting to do more than just play music will buy the ipod touch over the zune hd. There's no double standard. First gen zunes weren't any better than the ipods of the time. Zune hds don't appear to be even as good as the last generation ipod touches. The product isn't better so people don't buy it. I don't have an ipod touch because I don't need any of the other features. But if I wanted the other features there's nothing so far about this zune that would let it compete with even first gen ipod touches.
        um.crouc0
      • I don't think that someone...

        who knowingly and unapologetically posts lies about others is the right
        person to lecture others on morals.
        msalzberg
      • Who's apologising for Apple

        MS rips off yet another Apple product and we're accused of being amoral Apple apologists.

        Funniest post I've read in over a decade of reading ZDNet:-)
        Richard Flude
      • Garbage

        [b]The funny thing is that 2 years ago, this was exactly the argument that Apple apologists used to justify buying the iPod instead of other MP3 players.[/b]

        What is astounding is the idea that you remember a past that never occurred.

        The actual fact of the matter is that every device that has come out on the last 5 years was going to be the "iPod Killer" because of a laundry list of "features" that every tech analyst and blogtard said a PMP absolutely *had* to have to be successful, only to watch as every single one sank without a trace while from the iPod arose the Touch and left everyone else behind. Why? because it's built exceptionally well, is well supported and intuitive and simple to use. No one ever argued that one should buy an iPod because it lacked features, it's sales meant that no matter what the aforementioned blogtards and analysts said, those features were *irrelevant*.

        Morals? Try looking at the willfully ignorant rants and bilious screeds written about everything Apple and then come back and talk about "morals". While you are at it, understand that the hallucinatory past you throw out occurred only in your mind.

        Just to drive the point home, the actual argument for owning a Zune *WAS* that it had the laundry list of features that no one clearly cared about but were somehow a detriment because they didn't exist on an iPod. Now the fact that the Zune HD is lacking features compared to the industry standard iPod Touch, suddenly a Zunetard thinks that the lack of features make the Zune HD a winner?

        Get your damn stories straight!
        His_Shadow
  • Only one way this can be successful

    They have to beat Apple on price. By a lot. And by a lot I mean in the neighborhood of 50%. If they are only 20% less in price than Apple, people will think "Hey, for only 20% more I can get an iTouch which does a whole lot more". But if you can buy 2 Zune HDs for the price of 1 iTouch, you'll get people with 2 kids who when faced with a choice of buying one of their kids an iTouch or both of the kids a Zune HD, they'll make the choice that brings them the most peace.

    Of course that does not guarantee the sale to MS, but it gives them a shot at it. And given this offering, that's all MS can really hope for.
    Michael Kelly
    • If years of Apple apologists are right, less functional is better

      [i]Hey, for only 20% more I can get an iTouch which does a whole lot more[/i]

      But according to Apple apologists, that isn't how people think. More features is [b]worse[/b]. The thought process actually goes like this:
      [i]FM Radio? No, having that option will just confuse me. Support for bluetooth peripherals? No, that simply makes the unit less portable. Removable batteries? No, that's bad for landfills.[/i]

      If we were to use the standard Apple apologist logic, the ZuneHD is the [b]far[/b] better purchase than the iPod Touch. Wait for a quick revision to the rules that will boil down to this:
      1. When the Apple product has more features, more is better.
      2. When the Apple product has fewer features, less is better.

      Watch for it, it'll happen. :)
      NonZealot
      • Not all potential Apple customers are apologists

        And very few people are Apple detractors. And honestly I'm not too interested in how Apple apologist are going to react, because as you demonstrate it is so very predictable.

        If Zune and iTouch are the same price, or even close to the same price, features become less important than brand recognition. And like it or not, whether it is deserved or not, the iPod line has better brand recognition than Zune products. Which is why I think the Zune has to start competing on price. And in a big way, not by being a measly $20 cheaper.

        Now add to the fact that most of the basic specs of this Zune are less than that of an iTouch, and you come to the conclusion that they cannot price this thing anywhere near the price of an iTouch. They can indeed take the "less is more" stance, but part of that "less" has to be price. The Zune line does not have the clout to say "less is more" and charge more on that basis.
        Michael Kelly
        • Agreed, but watch anti-trust come in

          [i]They can indeed take the "less is more" stance, but part of that "less" has to be price.[/i]

          The irony is that if they price it too low, I bet you anything that it would spark anti-trust investigations. Apple is corrupt enough to lead the charge of having the Zune labeled a monopoly. The irony.
          NonZealot
          • That's the last thing Apple would do

            The last thing Apple wants is to attract the FTC's attention to the MP3 player market.

            And besides, there is no "price too low" regulation. MS would have to be using an existing monopoly to leverage their way into the MP3 player market. Now that is possible, MS could use Windows (or more specifically, WMP) to leverage their way into the market. But then Apple would have to prove that they wanted to use WMP just like Zune with the iPod but the Windows monopoly prevented them. And of course the LAST thing Apple want to do is allow its iPod owners to use WMP, because that would bust the iTunes store wide open.
            Michael Kelly
          • Yes there is a "price too low" regulation

            [i]And besides, there is no "price too low" regulation. MS would have to be using an existing monopoly to leverage their way into the MP3 player market.[/i]

            If they use Windows / Office profits to subsidize the price of the Zune for the express purpose of stealing marketshare away from Apple, that would be leveraging one monopoly to force their way into the MP3 player market. How ironic that Apple, the monopoly in the MP3 player market would actually lead the charge in anti-trust charges against Microsoft Zune!! And Apple apologists would cheer about the prospect of Apple killing off every single competing product.
            NonZealot
          • @Michael Kelly

            "And of course the LAST thing Apple want to do is allow its iPod owners
            to use WMP, because that would bust the iTunes store wide open."

            What like, Plays for Sure?
            jgpmolloy
      • So why not buy an ipod?

        By your logic a regular ipod is then the better purchase than a Zune HD. You are talking about two different markets, neither of which the zune appeals to.

        Here's how it works. If you don't need extra features, there's a simple ipod. I have a shuffle because that's all I need. If you want extra features, there's an ipod with more functionality. Zune can compete with neither because it has unwanted features for people who only want a basic music player, and can't do enough for people who want more than just a basic player. It's like coming out with a three wheeled car and expecting to get both the bike and car buyers to get it. Problem is people either want a bike or a car so the 3rd wheel is either one too many or one too few. It's not a better purchase for anyone because it doesn't meet consumer needs.
        um.crouc0
        • Because of price point. Obviously.

          If MS gets the price point right, with a bit of good advertising, the Zune HD will sell and sell well. If MS cannot get the price point right, all the advertising in the world is not going to help the Zune generate decent long term profitability.
          Cayble
        • How does it work again?

          [i]Here's how it works. If you don't need extra features, there's a simple ipod. I have a shuffle because that's all I need.[/i]

          Current Zunes are not meant to compete with iPod shuffles. They are meant to compete with classic iPods (HDD-based) and iPod nanos (flash-based). I think that's pretty obvious.

          [i]If you want extra features, there's an ipod with more functionality. Zune can compete with neither because it has unwanted features for people who only want a basic music player, and can't do enough for people who want more than just a basic player.[/i]

          What in the world are you talking about? What featured does the iPod classic have over the Zune 120? The Zune 120 several features that iPod classics lack, and lacks nothing compared to said iPod.

          MS's problem was that it came late to the game and people just buy iPods because of laziness/complacency/fear of trying something new.
          tikigawd
          • I owned both. The skinny.

            I first owned a IPOD 60gb. Nice device, nice feel, but the simple fact that I had to use I-Tunes made me hate the device. I now own a Zune 120gb. Very very nice. Zune synch is so easy a caveman could do it. Plus I love the wireless synch and FM radio.

            The problem with apple is that administering your songs or videos is difficult because of the crappy I-tunes. Now what I mean by this is that it is so locked down that people that dont know anything have an easy time using an apple but those who need more should get a zune.

            Case in point, I gave my IPOD to my techno-infant ex-wife and she likes it. Goes to show you.
            dborges07
          • People who don't know anything?

            Or from another perspective. People who know plenty and don't have
            a desire too tinker?.. maybe? I've been in the computer support
            business since I left trade school many...many...MANY years hence.
            Now I did not understand your complaint about song organizing what
            so ever. I-tunes has the ability to organize songs but me I've never
            even needed that. I only purchase what I enjoy so I listen to my song
            collection in shuffle mode and am fine with that. If I come across a
            song I don't want to hear at that moment for some odd reason I
            simple hit the skip and go to the next one. Why would I want to
            organize songs? Seems like a lot of time to spend for something that
            is not a problem for me:P

            You like to tinker. I've given it a try on occasion built hundreds of PC's
            in my lifetime and work on Mac and PC hardware often but thats my
            job not my hobby. i simply don't get the need/desire to do that when
            I don't have too. Yet I have no disdain for you and your choices. Yet
            the way you worded your response it would seem you assume that
            those of us who don't share in your hobby are what is it ignorant?

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn