Zune2 is no iPod killer, or even iPod competitor

As colleague Greg Sandoval notes, Microsoft has announced the second-generation Zunes. Each will go on sale in November.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

As colleague Greg Sandoval notes, Microsoft has announced the second-generation Zunes. Each will go on sale in November.

There will be a $249.99 Zune 80GB hard-drive model, with a 3.2 inch screen, and two flash models: a Zune 8GB at $199.99 and a 4GB for $149.99. The 8GB and 4GB will come in pink, green, black and glossy red.

Microsoft is making a big deal about the the new Zune Pad navigation button, with its touch-sensitive surface.

Consumers can flick their thumbs over the pad to fly through lists of songs or albums or to fast-forward through picture slide shows or videos. For those who need to pause, advance or adjust the volume on the device without looking, they can also navigate the Zune Pad using physical cues by pressing on the four sides or the center of the button to adjust the volume or choose the next track.

Microsoft mentions new Zune features as encompassing the following:

Wireless sync. Zune devices will automatically sync over consumers’ home wireless networks;

Extended wireless sharing. Full-length songs, albums, playlists, pictures and even audio podcasts will be shareable from device to device. Microsoft notes consumers will be able listen to any song received up to three times with no time restrictions, and they can now also pass along songs to other friends who have a Zune.

Recorded television content to go. The Zune software will now automatically import broadcast content recorded on Windows Media Center PCs.

But is this enough for Microsoft's Zune to make inroads against the iPod or even the iPhone?

Well, the new Zune won't have or be a phone, of course. But what about vis-a-vis the iPod?

IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian tells Greg she regards the new Zune's features as encompassing "important incremental changes," while Gartner analyst Van Baker regards Zune 2's feature set as Microsoft "holding their own."

I'm somewhere in the middle. Zune is a cool product, but unlike iPod has not made the transition to both a must-have product and a transition term often substituted for the generic reference in the way, say, "I'll Google that" or "I've got to put that track on my iPod." Or, in this case, "I 'Zune'd' a whole bunch of tracks last night."

Plus, as Greg notes, Zune's 1 million track selection is outpaced in certain quarters.

But how about your quarters- meaning your ears and wallets?

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