What 'Zune Mobile' is and isn't

What 'Zune Mobile' is and isn't

Summary: Microsoft officials (finally) denied this week that the company will be rolling out a Zune phone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. But they didn't deny they have something called "Zune Mobile" up their sleeves.

TOPICS: Mobility, Microsoft

Microsoft officials (finally) denied this week that the company will be rolling out a Zune phone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. But they didn't deny they have something called "Zune Mobile" up their sleeves.

Zune Mobile seems to be a set of Zune-specific premium services for Windows Mobile devices. These services are part of what I've been calling the "Pink" services for the past several months.

A few bloggers have talked in generalities about the fact it would be a no-brainer for Microsoft to move some of the Zune services to mobile devices. But Paul Thurrott was actually the first person I saw use the "Zune Mobile" name to refer specifically to this platform, after his meeting this week with the Windows Mobile team.

One of my tipsters, who requested anonymity, recently shared a bit more context on Pink/Zune Mobile.

"Your description  (of Pink as Microsoft's forthcoming set of premium mobile-services) is fairly spot on as far as I can tell -- with the caveat that Pink is a 'customer' of Zune services in the music space...not the other way around.  The Musiwave acqusition playing a part there."

(When Microsoft bought Musiwave back in 2007, there was quite a bit of talk of Musicwave bringing commerce capabilities to Windows Mobile platforms.)

I wasn't among the attendees of Microsoft's invite-only Mobius conference this week. I'm sure those folks, who are under non-disclosure, know more specifics. But if I were to guess what kinds of "Zune Mobile" services we might see announced at CES, I wouldn't be surprised to see more music purchase, playing, sharing and subscribing -- and maybe even a little something special for podcasters/podcast listeners, too.

Any other guesses as to what Zune Mobile is/isn't? And anyone have more thoughts on what kinds of other premium mobile services may be coming from the Pink team (from the Danger crew, especially)?

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Of Course They Will Deny It

    If they came out and admitted they were working on a Zune Phone the amount of flaming that would come from the tech community about copycatting Apple would be tremendous.

    It'll come, just watch.
    • Why should they?

      look at Apple being foreced to lower and lower the price of the iPhone to the point that they can not actually be making the profit margin with which they are accustomed to.

      Let Apple, Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry bleed it out fighting the hardware wars.
      • apple gets full price for iPhones. AT&T pays the difference, not apple

        this is how the cell industry works... the carrier subsidizes
        the price of phones... not just for apple, this is for all phone
      • Enter more common platforms, via "business consolidation."

        Sheez, don't you know anything?
    • Even Steve Ballmer said they should be more Apple like...

      They copy Apple all the time
      • They should rebrand Microsoft to "Pear."

        It's a close enough copy, but in non-Microsoft fashion, it actually works.

        Pears go off really quickly.
        They're costlier than the more beneficial alternatives.
        Ballmer's silhouette could be used.
        Instead of teeth marks they should use beak marks.
  • RE: What 'Zune Mobile' is and isn't

    I'm not sure exactly what it (Zune Mobile) is. But, if the "Zune Mobile" platform doesn't include some sort of connectivity to the Zune's PC software, and a built-in App/game stores, then this project has TOTAL FAILURE written all over it. Microsoft's problem is that they are always late to the party, and by the time they get there, they are still delusional about what they need to bring to make a splash.
  • Microsoft's Biggest Problem is not being second..

    Microsoft has a great product with the Zune: the player is great, better than compariable iPod models, if you own a PC (iPhone and iPod touch to me are completely different products). The music value is much better, and you don't get charged extra for MP3s. The user interface of the Zune software (like iTunes) is much better and cleaner than Apples.

    What Microsoft lacks is effective Marketing. Have you SEEN these Mixview commercials? Who would be convinced to buy a Zune after seeing one of them? The Zune is often made fun of, on late night TV (Conan O Brien and Colbert Report come to mind). Why WOULD anyone want to buy something people made fun of?

    Here's something simple and easy: Give a ZuneOriginals Zune to Steven Colbert, with a picture of his DVD cover imprinted on the back. There's no way his persona's ego wouldn't positively acknowledge it on the air.
    • NO! That shows that the Microsoft brand is dead.

      It's not that difficult to figure out.

      THEY can't figure it out though, because they're all too busy running around and billshutting as many people as they can, simply to please their shareholders, because that's the #1 right Steve?

      Will someone please enlighten me as to how that is remotely conducive to a more optimal computing society, and society as a whole?
  • Zune Software on WinMobile... done!

    the problem with the Zune is the Zune brand has been trashed... it's
    worthless. it was a stupid name to begin with... i mean Zune? what
    the !@#! were they thinking? terrible! then the media got a hold of it
    and beat the hell out of the brand.. then iPhone and iPod Touch
    came out further improving the iPod brand and the Zune brand
    shrunk even further in relation (top of the iPod brand WAY higher
    than the top of the zune brand)... then they had those stupid

    MS is just clueless about mass consumer products. so now the zune
    brand it complete and utter trash so i don't know which is worse
    adding the zune branding to WinMobile or adding WinMo's already
    'yesterday's news' brand branding to Zune... they are in the same
    boat as Sony they have a worthless brand to work with in this space.
    maybe even worse than Sony because the zune brand actually bring
    up negative connotations and the Sony brand is just neither here nor

    bottom line is that apple's conventional iPods will be/are
    commodity/low margin products going forward and iPod
    Touch/iPhone/handheld computer market is where the good margins
    will be made... just be be relevant in this space MS needs a product
    that not just equals the iPod touch/iPhone but actually rivals it in
    some significant way(s)... doesn't seem possible for MS to pull off
    given their record thus far... cannot seem to innovate. maybe the
    answer for MS is to just get out of this space and stop hemorrhaging
    money that it doesn't seem they are capable of recovering... earth to
    MS, the train has left the station and you were not on it.
    • Couldn't have said it better

      The Zune brand has been tarnished from the start (mostly self-inflicting). Yes horrible name - Late to the market again - slow with updates - buggy Software - clunky tank of an original (that's not cool) - gimmicky sharing feature that was not only useless (who else had a Zune to share?) but to add insult, it was also very limited with the 3/3 rule. And advertising, what a joke that was in the beginning (and not that much better now if you notice any). I know they have marketing classes on the iPod's success in the market, but they should also have classes on how to surely be a failure (staring Zune)!
    • Really

      "it was a stupid name to begin with... i mean Zune? what the !@#! were they thinking? terrible! then the media got a hold of it and beat the hell out of the brand"

      Give me a reliable media source that made fun of the Zune name.

      "MS is just clueless about mass consumer products."

      As everyone has seen the other piece of hardware that the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft makes has been a huge flop due to there lack of knowledge about mass consumer products. *cough*360*cough* 30% Failure rate according to some people and it still sells better than some of the "better" competition. Yup clueless.

      Once Apple gets me a device that can hold all my music at a reasonable price and that is superior to the Zune I'll buy it. Sorry Classic you just don't cut it. The other devices just lack space.

      I do agree that MS needs something to compete with the iPod Touch. I do believe that the Touch is essentially worthless since for less money you can get the same thing as well as something else most people "need" to have, a phone.
  • RE: What 'Zune Mobile' is and isn't

    The zune will never succeed as the ipod has until microsoft addresses the car stereo integration.

    Almost all aftermarket, and indeed, a lot of the factory installed stereos, have direct control over the ipods. This keeps the driver from trying to read the tiny screen and fumbling with the device while driving.

    This is the reason my zune80 is sitting in a drawer and my new ipod120 is in the glove compartment.
    • You touched on an area where Apple is anti-competitive

      [i]The zune will never succeed as the ipod has until microsoft addresses the car stereo integration.[/i]

      Microsoft innovated the [url=http://www.syncmyride.com/]MS Sync system[/url] which will allow you to play and control almost any MP3 player, including the iPod and the Zune. Does Apple's system allow you to use almost any MP3 player or is the monopoly trying to keep other MP3 players out of the car? By using 100% proprietary connections, they have introduced a barrier to entry. Nice use of their monopoly!
      • Zune's not dead yet?

        After last Christmas they said it would only be iPod and
        Zune. It is still iPod and SanDisk.

        <sarcasm>We do have a special Gears of Way special edition
        that I am sure to be a hot Christmas special.</sarcasm>

        Yep time is ripe for the Zune Phone. MS has all that cash
        they have to spend on something. Might as well deplete
        some of the funds.
    • No one seems to care about that market

      There is an appalling lack of options for doing that with any non-iPod device. I currently use an AUX jack on my custom head unit and a custom velcro mount (very discreet) to hold up my Creative ZEN. The buttons are tiny as is the on screen text but it works.

      I do have another alternative, I could just plug it into the USB jack and use the normal radio controls but it doesn't support shuffle all, select by artist/album, or play lists. With 1,400 tracks I like to have some control over what plays and what doesn't.

      To do all that I'd have to get an in car computer which is overkill.
  • Zune Mobile guesses

    I would guess that, since Ozzie had mentioned Zune on Mesh in the past, that a Zune Mobile device/services would use the Mesh and centralize your music library (cloud-based with local backup) for access and sync from anywhere (syncing being the important part), probably as long as your main music library had the permissions to share with that Zune device.

    That would be a nice start. Maybe add Zune Marketplace access through WinMo so that music purchases made on the go would download to your central music library, while you could choose whether or not to sync them with your zune/winmo device at that time or later.

    With 25gb avail on Skydrive already, plus 5gb on Mesh, you could easily put a portion of your music collection in the cloud now, even without additional storage allotted.
  • I love my Zune as is!

    I have 4 iPods for the wife and kid, and a Zune 2.0
    for myself, and wouldn't trade it. I love it. But the
    idea of a Zune phone, Ill pass.
    -contr0l @ http://newsfortechs.blogspot.com/
    • What's wrong with Zune Pass?

      $15 per month
      10 drm free songs to keep each month
      and all the songs you can download for free

      I can understand some dislike for it before because all your music was "rented" but with the recent addition to 10 songs to keep each month I can't say that for essentially $5 the ability to download all the other music is bad.

      It's good to hear that people do understand that the Zune > iPod Classics, marketing doesn't make a device better as other arguments have been stating, it just helps in sales.
      • Yet, there's more value to a ZunePass...

        Best feature of Zune Pass?...easy, as a father of two teenage daughters, the ability to download to three different PC's and three different Zunes...$14.99 a month and we all have unlimited downloads...the ten songs is a bonus!