Zune VideoX: Microsoft's iTunes killer?

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One of my sources believes eLive is dead and has been superseded by Zune VideoX.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