Zune VideoX: Microsoft's iTunes killer?

Zune VideoX: Microsoft's iTunes killer?

Summary: Zune Marketplace is no iTunes killer. But maybe Zune VideoX will be.After recently hearing about Microsoft's grand entertainment-marketplace (codenamed eLive), now I'm getting word of yet another Microsoft entertainment marketplace, known currently as "Zune Video X" (for Video Experience).


Zune Marketplace is no iTunes killer. But maybe Zune VideoX will (at least attempt to) be.

After recently hearing about Microsoft's grand entertainment-marketplace/service (codenamed eLive), now I'm getting word of yet another Microsoft entertainment marketplace, known currently as "Zune Video X" (for Video Experience).

One of the main movers and shakers behind the initiative is said to be Joe Belfiore. Corporate vice president of the Entertainment and Devices eHome Division. Belfiore was responsible for "development, business management and marketing of Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition and related devices, including Media Center Extender and the Media Center DVR," last anyone heard of him. As Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Todd Bishop noted today, Belfiore is rumored to be working on something Zune-related now.)

Zune VideoX is not Zune Marketplace revisited, sources say. Instead, it is Microsoft's attempt to apply the lessons learned with the success of the Xbox Live Marketplace to the Zune market, said one source who asked not to be named. It would be a single hub where Zune users could buy and download music, videos, TV shows and more entertainment content.

Microsoft has been talking about building a unified entertainment marketplace for years. One such attempt was codenamed "Alexandria." Another is eLive, is supposedly a single, unified “entertainment marketplace” where consumers will be able to go to buy music, videogames, and other kinds of content that will work on Windows PCs, Xboxes, Zunes and Windows Mobile phones.

So is the concept of a single, giant entertainment service/marketplace in the sky a dead one?

One of my sources believes eLive is dead and has been superseded by Zune VideoX.

"eLive was renamed and recrafted to Zune VideoX, and the eLive vision scaled down to focus on Zune," the source, who requested anonymity, said.

The source continued: "A primary lesson here is that BillG's (Chairman Bill Gates') mantra of 'integrated innovation' has finally started to wither. This socialistic perspective meant that engineering teams were pressured into reusing code and approaches from other teams, even if it meant that much of the IP transfer would not fit perfectly or have to be rewritten in order to meet the specific needs of that team's particular customer market."

I've asked Microsoft for comment on this confusing mess. No word back yet.

Update: On April 16, a Microsoft spokesperson responded with this statement:

"We are hard at work in E&D (Entertainment & Devices) delivering against our connected entertainment strategy. There are lots of pieces that will come together over time, including significant investments across all of our software plus services offerings including Zune, but we have nothing new to announce at this time."

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, 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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  • yawn...

    yet another itunes/ipod killer, doomed to be more blood on Apple iPod's Click Wheel.
    • Yeah, everyone should quit competing with Apple

      If it is all as hopeless as you suggest, then maybe no one should ever come out with anything that will ever compete with anything that Apple has ever released.

      I'm [b]very[/b] glad that the team at Mozilla didn't have your attitude when they decided to make a browser to compete with IE. After all, the corpses of many browsers laid strewn at the feet of IE so it really was quite silly of them to even try, right?
      • Quit competing?

        That mantra has been pushed by Windows zealots for years, they think it is pointless to create any product that competes with Windows or Office or even IE.

        I think there should be plenty of competition - iTMS is only the market leader at the moment, there is every chance that it wont be in say 5 years time. Having said that, Microsoft's record in on-line entertainment portals is woeful so I'm not expecting them to do any better this time. But maybe eventually they'll get it right, hopefully before the [b]next big thing[/b] makes it and iTMS irrelevant.

        Incidentally, where are all those "corpses of many browsers laid strewn at the feet of IE"? There was Netscape Navigator 4 and...?

        Sure there are many browsers that tried and failed, but I don't think that was necessarily because of IE in particular. Other browsers like OmniWeb, Opera and iCab have survived quite happily on the same platforms as IE, not to mention the many Linux browsers.
        Fred Fredrickson
        • Quite possibly one of the goofiest things ever claimed

          Windows users think ?it is pointless to create any product that competes with Windows or Office or even IE.???

          Get real. You have just restated the mantra of the loyal clan of ?Apple? Jacks and attributed it to Windows users. That?s absolutely ridiculous. I know dozens on dozens of Windows users and not a one has ever said any thing that would even imply that competing with MS is pointless. In fact even the most loyal of Windows fans surely believe competition against MS would be great as the case always is that as the competition goes up, the price always comes down if the competition actually is good enough to be successful.

          Its time the Apple Jacks at least make a small attempt at getting real. The credibility of Apple fanatics just seems to plummet every time I read the responses to a blog that so much as refers to an Apple product.

          Saying that Windows users think its pointless to compete is just so silly its hard to imagine what kind of a whack job can make such a statement and be serious about it. I could even understand if you said that some Windows users have said so far the competition ?HAS BEEN? pointless thus far, because for most Windows users neither Apple or Linux provides a product that does exactly what they want it to do yet, just as most Apple and Linux users believe competition from MS has been pointless to them for the same kind of reasons. But only a jackass would say that Windows users think that it is pointless to compete against MS.
      • If only the products others made did compete..sigh.

        And no IE at the time was well not a good product. So
        competition kicked MS in the buttocks and got them
        working again. (Which is the point of competition in the
        first place) Now the iPod and iPhone do not well suffer the
        same rep as the then IE. That I guess is why others have
        found it so hard to actually compete. Some time
        competition is a very good thing for all it get the blood
        circulating and makes everything better for the consumer.
        However there are times when the so called competition
        just isn't. Like a bunch of Sumo Wrestlers in a race with an
        olympic marathon champion. Unless at the very start of
        the race a wrestler manages to trip and fall onto the
        Marathon champ it isn't really going to be what one would
        call an actual "race".....:P

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Re:Yeah, everyone should quit competing with Apple

        I think the 'yawn' probably has more to do with the editorial laziness thats involved with creating headlines like "iPod killer" or "iTunes killer".

        It suggests that no tech writers are creative enough to come up with headlines that are anything but overly optimistic or sensational when someone comes up with a product that challenges the current leader in whatever field is being discussed, and that works in either direction (mac vs. pc, pc vs. mac, zune vs. ipod, etc).

        It would be more pleasing to read articles that don't always suggest that some new product is a 'this or that-killer', but rather, describe the product and its relative benefits. This is technology, not the superbowl or a heavyweight boxing match.
        • I totally agree: iPhone killer is the worst

          It is amazing to me that all touch screen cell phones before the iPhone (and there were many) were simply touch screen cell phones. Then when Apple released the iPhone and claimed to have invented the touch screen cell phone, all touch screen cell phones are now "iPhone killers" instead of simply being called what they are: the natural evolution of a line of touch screen cell phones that started 5+ years ago, long before the iPhone was a twinkle in Jobs' eye.
          • That just so happen to trip over themselves to look

            like an iPhone....Hmmmmm? So Apple is the leader in
            evolution? OK I can live with that..:P

            Check this out NonZ

            James Quinn
          • No one said Apple invented it, only you

            and a few other whiners. You do realize that to be able to be anything great in the cell phone industry they now have to follow in the footsteps of what is now recognized as "hot."

            And the reason everything is being labeled as the new "iPhone Killer" is because they are trying to replicate the touch screen look of the iPhone while being just a cheap imitation knock of the iPhone look while STILL not implementing anything original. Blame the cell phone companies for the blatant rip-off wanna-be iPhone clones, not Apple.

            Look at the iMac looking clones of everything after they debuted. I never seen so much translucent cr@p in my life-even toasters and microwaves for god's sake!! I'm glad that phase of copy-catting is now pass?.
            Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
          • Invented Lies?

            Are you still inventing lies? ;)
            Who claimed Apple "invented" Touch Screen on the iPhone again?

            Just like the iPod before it, you will continue to here about such and such company gunning for the iPhone. I do hope we do not here that word "killer" again also. But I look forward to seeing you on these boards again inventing lies about Apple and its users.
    • iPod Killer, Office killer, Windows Killer, iPhone killer

      Who named it that? The manufactures, or the authors looking for a good blog thread?
      • LOL I Know..ZDNet Has A Ticket On The Microsoft Bandwagon

        Everything they make is a "Killer"...too bad the only thing these stories kill is time.
        • Do you actually READ the posts?

          MJF is probably one of thier biggest critics... so is Adrian Kingsly you got the anal right in your name - that's for sure.
      • exactly..

        Its just editorial laziness. There should be a ban on 'whatever-killer' as a title for any tech article.
    • Funny you should mention the click wheel.

      Apple didn’t introduce that to the consumer marketplace. Mag did, with their Mag Innovision 15″ CRT monitor — for which the click wheel was an [i]awesome[/i] innovation. One control device allowed you to control everything about the monitor: height, width, pincushioning, trapezoidal, parallelogram, moiré, color temperature / custom RGB balance, etc. etc. etc.
      Joel R
  • RE: Zune VideoX: Microsoft's iTunes killer?

    Indeed. The more competitors try to do something new and innovative, Apple makes a few tweaks, redeploys, and undermines them. Fact is, iTunes was first and best, and the idea of anyone suddenly catching up to ITMS and passing it by is absurd. As absurd of Macs overtaking Windows PCs in market share anytime soon.

    The digital music/video market is Apple's to lose, the same as desktop OS'es is Microsoft's to lose. In music, Apple took a page from MSFT's book and beat them at their own rigged game. And some people just can't stand that.
  • RE: Zune VideoX: Microsoft's iTunes killer?

    I wouldn't act so cocky
  • This Zune owners patience is wearing thin

    I'm getting a bit impatient for the Zune offerings in come along. I want television, movies, more artist and a way to put podcast into playlists. If they want to compete with itunes then COMPETE PLEASE. Or don't, but don't waste out time. I think the players are right there, but I'd love to uninstall itunes forever and be done with their bi-monthly updates (now including Safari)but it still has a few things I want so I keep it.
    • You don't own a Zune, this is a fake post..

      I own an generation 2 80 gig Zune.. I can put podcasts on my playlist, and I listen to them all of the time while driving my Ford Focus with Microsoft Sync which controls the unit (or an iPod) through it's USB port.

      I also record tv shows through my Windows Media Center and sync the shows right up to my Zune for free..

      What doesn't work about any of this..
      • I do have a 2nd gen Zune and I'll try manually putting

        podcasts into playlist. I did try this when I first got it,I hope I'm wrong I hate itunes and I prefer the quality of audio on the Zune over my ipod. Itunes 128 kb drm songs are crap Amazon or the Zune store songs better so I'd prefer them. I have a 8GB version so I hope I can do what you recomended.