Can Zune HD topple the iPod touch?

Can Zune HD topple the iPod touch?

Summary: Microsoft is having a hard time breaking into the portable media player market, but can the combination of the Zune HD, along with undercutting Apple be what finally works?

SHARE:
118

Microsoft is having a hard time breaking into the portable media player market, but can the combination of the Zune HD, along with undercutting Apple be what finally works?

The Zune so far really wasn't the success that Microsoft had hoped that it would be. Or, to put it more bluntly, compared to Apple, it's been a flop. OK, not a total flop, but lets just say it didn't live up to the hype.

The Zune HD seems different to other devices in the Zune lineup. It's basically an iPod touch without the App Store. In fact, in some ways it's better than the iPod touch in that it offers HD radio and a OLED screen. And here's the sweet part - Microsoft has confirmed that a Zune HD with 16GB of storage will sell for $219.99, while the 32GB version will set you back $289.99. Compare this to the iPod touch, where Apple wants $299 for the 16GB model and a whopping $399 for the 32GB model. At a time when people are price-sensitive, this has the potential to be a popular buy this holiday season.

[poll id="480"]

There are gaps though. So far, I don't see an email client, which is a real shame. That's a deal-breaker as far as I'm concerned. I wonder if for others the lack of apps might be the deal-breaker.

Thoughts?

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

118 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Competition is good for everyone.

    I am an apple fan and I am in no way interested in having a Zune; however, the fact that MS has a competing product is a good thing. It will put Apple in a position where it will have to also compete! This is good.
    tonyhunterajh
    • Problem is... The Zune HD doesn't offer ANY competition...

      http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2009/09/14/from-
      oled-to-tegra-five-myths-of-the-zune-hd/

      The HD in HD Radio officially doesn?t stand for
      anything anymore, but it was originally for
      ?hybrid digital,? because HD Radio is all about
      replacing or augmenting analog radio with
      digital transmissions.

      The OLED display sucks. The Zune HD?s OLED
      screen isn?t high definition in the sense of
      HDTV. The screen itself is only 480?272, which
      is significantly less than the iPhone/iPod
      touch at 480?320. Microsoft is promoting is the
      Zune HD?s capacity to output 720p HD video
      (when using its HDMI dock).

      What?s ?new? in the release of the Zune HD is a
      different version of the mobile IE browser,
      based not upon the creaky IE 4 engine from 1997
      (still delivered in today?s Windows Mobile
      devices), but a mobile version of IE 6, which
      dates back to 2001. That leaves the Zune HD?s
      browser nearly a decade behind the modern
      WebKit browsers used in the iPhone, Palm Pre,
      Android, and modern BlackBerry phones.

      If you ask me.... The Zune HD doesn't even
      begin to compete with anything Apple is
      selling.... The only thing that drives sales is
      that it gives the Apple haters an option to
      look like dorks.
      i8thecat
  • Similar to, but different FROM (nt)

    nt
    Economister
  • RE: Can Zune HD topple the iPod touch?

    There's no way the new Zune is going to hurt the iPod. The reality is, it doesn't really matter how great the hardware is - without the apps it's just a piece of high-tech junk!

    Besides, for Apple dropping the price and adding an OLED screen, or HD Radio ( would be no big problem - Apple could add those in a heartbeat!

    Besides, the Zune doesn't have the 'buzz' of the iPod or access to the world's largest and most popular music store - iTunes.

    Microsoft has done a great job on the Zune HD, but I don't think it will be enough to kill of the iPod anytime soon, because for one thing, like the rising of the sun tomorrow, you can be assured that Apple has it's own upgrades in store for the iPod.

    For that, I can't wait.
    netzd
  • RE: Can Zune HD topple the iPod touch?

    Well, I am betting on a camera and video with the new
    touch.

    $229 for a 16GB and $299 for a 32GB.

    Add in the app store.

    End of story.

    Can't underestimate a camera with video capability.
    The Zune HD does not have either.

    But yeah, that OLED screen is nice. Apple will go in
    that direction but I doubt they can secure the
    quantities needed. No probalem for MS. THey won't have
    near the volume in sales.

    msantti
  • RE: Can Zune HD topple the iPod touch?

    The apps are what make the Touch a compelling device.
    Otherwise, you just have another media player. So the
    Zune HD is just another media player (a nice one, but).

    The touch is a ubiquitous device...a handheld computer
    that fits in your pocket and can do a wide variety of things,
    because of the apps you can load on it. It's a platform,
    along with the iPhone. Lots of people can develop apps for
    the iPhone OS. Can the same be said for the Zune HD? Is
    there any plans to open up the Zune for development? Can
    it do more than it's built in functions?

    It may be successful as a media player, but unless it can
    do more than a Touch, it won't come close to touching
    one.
    beatfarmer
    • Hmm.

      Seeing that the first 3 generations of Zunes were able to have "application" aka games using Microsoft's XNA Framework, I'm going to bet that they are going to have something for it. Microsoft isn't going to just do apps, that's not the focus. It's focus is being a media player, THEN applications.
      Zedox
      • I have to agree

        But to a point. Sure, MS might not want to push another handheld computer on the market that is ALSO a media player when you can refine the device as a media player only. For this to work though, they need more storage! They have to try to compete with the iPod classics that are just media players, and have the storage to support it. 32GB is not adequate for a media player which is why I will stick with my iPod classic.
        djmik
        • Of course

          Zune 120 are competing with iPod Classic. MS has stated this. Zune HD is competing with iPod Touch, which MS also has stated. MS has also stated (well, the representative) that they will probably release 64 GB in the future a little bit. I'm guessing Apple will come out with 64 GB iPod Touch, so MS will be "forced" to be competitive if they really want to compete.

          So all I'm saying is that it's trying to be more of a "media player" than the iPod Touch. So for all the people who want a touchscreen "media player" that isn't an iPod or something "better" (opinion) then they can try out the Zune HD.
          Zedox
      • They need to do both NOW........

        It needs to offer a device that's not only a good media player, but also one that offers the same level of Apps and features you'd find on the iPod Touch to compete. If they're not doing this then they will fail, again. The XNA games (or Apps) never developed the way it should have for the current gen Zunes. They were mainly for the homebrews types, not the general consumers.

        With you saying they will focus first on being a "media player, THEN applications", is like a new company entering the cell phone space saying we will focus on making calls first, then all the extra features our competitor offers. Umm 2009?
        dave95.
        • Ok

          So come out with BOTH and then suck at one but good at the other...or come out with the thing that you are mainly making and add on to it. You are forgetting that they aren't marketing the Zune HD as a PDA, it is marketed as a Media Player. How much bad PR would they get for not having a GOOD APP STORE than if they didn't have a app store period and then add a good one? Could they potentially lose some customers because of that? Yes, of course, but they probably don't want bad PR (ala Vista).

          Oh the XNA games that were made for anyone, they just didn't have a central place for anyone to get it. I'm guessing that's what you meant by not general consumers.

          Oh and for the cell phone space analogy, need I remind you that the iPhone/iPod Touch didn't have an App Store to begin with and yes I do understand no one had an "app store" like how they have it now (centralized) but they did exist, just not brought to the limelight. They made a good PDA phone then added onto it. ;)
          Zedox
          • I just hear excuses excuses for MS....

            How is it that Apple is able to transition their consumers over from the iPod Classics to iPod Touch and keep them happy? And at lower the drive space I may add? By offering them a PMP that's greatly improved over the last Classics, plus more. I have an iPod classic with much more drive space that is hardly used why? Because I am more satisfied with the iPod Touch as a PMP first. All the extra features like email, Apps are just icing. It is my media player I take everywhere. There is no sucking at one, and being good at the other here. The great Microsoft can't offer this?
            dave95.
          • Ok, once again

            So the Zune HD is not greatly improved over the Zune 120? I'm done arguing with you, just mindless troll.
            Zedox
        • Do you know how many time's I've heard...

          Do you know how many time's I've heard "I wish they would just make a cell phone that would make good calls"?

          Just yesterday my cousin told me "I wish they would just make a car without all this shit like auto parking, reverse cameras, all this bullshit that just ends up breaking. I want a nice quality car, with no extra crap"

          Seems to me there's something to be said about doing one thing and doing it well.
          ModernMech
          • Point taken, but......

            The iPod, iPod Touch (iPhone), and many other PMP already plays back music well or well enough for the mass consumer in 2009. People in general are satisfied. This blog is about whether Zune HD will topple the iPod Touch (lol), or not. If Microsoft want's to target the small niche of consumer that may complain then go right ahead. They surely wont topple anything Apple doing so.

            The iPod Touch makes a hell of a PMP. It does music/video very well. It is up 130% from last year in sales for a reason. As a podcast junkie, I am able to download the latest podcast over WiFi on the go, the Zune won't even be able to give me that.
            dave95.
          • And you can't do that

            on the Zune HD because.....?
            Zedox
          • You can't download Podcast over WiFi like the Touch can

            But feel free to correct me if I am wrong. ;)

            In an interview CNet did with a Zune team member, he confirmed that the ZuneHD won't offer this very important feature (no podcast syncing on the road over wifi like the iPod Touch).

            http://reviews.cnet.com/8300-6490_7-49.html
            dave95.
    • Funny thing

      My 3 yo PDA can do everything that the itouch does and much more.. and can even change out battieries
      rparker009
      • really?

        Wow! So it can download and run apps from the App
        Store? Amazing!

        App Store = Zune DD (dead duck)
        vaporland
        • Is this a barrier to competition?

          So you say then that they only way anyone can compete is if they have access to Apple's App Store? Wow. Since Apple won't give anyone else access to the App Store and competition is impossible without that access, you've just convicted Apple of being a predatory monopolist!
          NonZealot