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.