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Microsoft to follow Apple's lead with third-gen Zune players

post #1 of 54
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Like Apple, Microsoft is expected to announce this month a new family of Zune media players that will introduce some new features while adopting others that have been available on iPods since this time last year.

The plans were outed over the weekend when electronics retailer Frys inadvertently published specifications and a photo of an third-generation, flash-based 8GB Zune model.

The webpage, since removed, listed the players as being in stock, suggesting the Redmond-based software giant may make an attempt to steal some of the thunder surrounding Apple's Let's Rock event by introducing the new Zune offerings on Tuesday or shortly thereafter.

Like Apple's iPods, the 8GB Zune will come pre-loaded with a selection of games. "Play the popular poker game Texas Hold'em or challenge yourself to a game of Hexic, and make sure you play your favorite song from your collection to create your own personal game soundtrack," read the spec sheet leaked by Frys.

Similarly, the player will also let users browse the Zune Marketplace for new songs when connected over Wi-Fi. The capability is documented as one of the features of a new "Device to Cloud" technology that will also let users exchange favorites with friends and purchase songs tagged through Zune's built-in FM radio application.

Another feature described in the spec sheet, called "Channels," will reportedly support "custom programming stations" that deliver personalized playlists to Zune users.

The leak by Frys arrived on the heels of a similar slip by online retailer Amazon.com, which posted to its web store a listing for a $250 120GB hard disk-based Zune that appeared otherwise identical to the outgoing 80GB model.

According to the information published by Frys, the 8GB flash-based Zune will retail for $150 and come in new colors that include blue and silver. A 16GB model is expected to fetch $200.



For its part, Apple is widely expected to announce steep price cuts on a new line of iPods to be introduce Tuesday, likely undercutting those planned by Microsoft for its new Zune line. Much of that speculation was drawn from comments made by Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer during a July 21st conference call with analysts.

"We have some investments in front of us that I cant discuss with you today where were going to be delivering state of the art new products that our competitors just arent going to be able to match," he said.
post #2 of 54
If they actually do announce a new Zune, on the day Apple has a big event, it's going to show just how out of touch and stupid these people really are.

It will take ZERO thunder away from Apple, and in effect do the opposite.
Three weeks after tomorrow's event, people will STILL not know anything about the Zune because IT will get buried by everything Apple is doing.
If they were smart, they'd wait a week or so, and announce the "answer to the new Apple hardware".

This reminds me of the big announcment Sony was doing on new MP3 players featuring mini-drives just like the iPod. They at least had the foresight to wait until AFTER Apple did a show. At the Apple show, Apple announced they were going Flash! Sony was able to cancel their show, and shelve millions of dollars in development as it all became moot.
If they had gone ahead, on the day Apple launched, they would'vr looked super stupid and would not have been able to pull the product as easily.

I know MS is not going to pull the Zune, but going live on the day of Apple's event is not going to make a single dent in Apple's buzz and will get themselves ignore.
Launching a Zune minor upgrade in the middle of this is like going out to paint your picket fence white..... in the middle of a roaring snow-storm.
You may be able to do it..... but nobody is going to notice much less care.
post #3 of 54
Are M$ still selling the Zune family at a loss?
- Or have M$ managed to pull their heads out of their A$$ long enough to make a product that is good enough to be sold at a profit?
- to be honest, I think competition for Apple is a good thing, but not if the competition deliberately sold at a loss in order to gain market-share (that means you M$!).
post #4 of 54
Why innovate when you can copy? I wonder how much Microsoft has lost so far with their ipod knock off?
post #5 of 54
i would not consider the Zune an iPod knock off at all. the Zune is a fine media player and the subscription service is nice. the software sucks though and since they decided not to make a mac compatible version of it, they will never gain any real market share. a huge mistake on their part.
post #6 of 54
Thunder-stealing won't work. Every SINGLE article about the "new" Zune will ALSO mention what Apple's releasing. More free PR for Apple, who already has the mindshare.

Meanwhile, much if not most of Apple's press coverage will fail to mention the new Zunes at all. Kind of like how the Vista press coverage didn't touch on Tiger or Leopard much.

The "leader" gets mentioned all the time--frustrating for the smaller alternative I'm sure.
post #7 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The plans were outed over the weekend when electronics retailer Frys inadvertently published specifications and a photo of an third-generation, flash-based 8GB Zune model.

Third-generation? I believe there's only been one generation of the flash-based Zunes thus far, so that would make these new ones second-generation.
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post #8 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by rychencop View Post

since they decided not to make a mac compatible version of it, they will never gain any real market share.

Does not compute.
post #9 of 54
I agree. It is too crappy to be a copy. :O) Seriously. The first generation made users really angry because Microsoft was supposed to offer all kinds of updates. Those never happened until Microsoft released the second generation. There was a whole Microsoft Zune blog full of pissed off users. To Microsoft's credit, it kept the blog up.

The Zune offers nothing that the iPod doesn't except the half baked squirting feature. I say half baked because half the songs will not squirt. Moreover, the iPod has many features the Zune lacks. For instance, the ability to play games, watch video and photos from the iPod on your television, an alarm clock, the ability to use it as a hard drive, and a million third party add ons.

I could care less if the third generation Zune was the greatest player ever. If you screw over your customers once, that is enough to lose my business for a long time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by rychencop View Post

i would not consider the Zune an iPod knock off at all. the Zune is a fine media player and the subscription service is nice. the software sucks though and since they decided not to make a mac compatible version of it, they will never gain any real market share. a huge mistake on their part.
post #10 of 54
This may be the best evidence we have as to Apple's pricing for the next iPods.

If the 120GB Zune is $250, and the current 80GB Classic is $250 with the 160Gb Classic at $350, can we expect Apple to drop the 80 in favour for the 120GB model, add the 120GB model to the line up at $250 while dropping the price of the other models by $50, or some other combination?

The current 8GB Nano is $200, it seems to be a given that it will match the 8GB Zune price of $150 and drop the 4GB model altogether for the 16GB model at $200.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

The Zune offers nothing that the iPod doesn't except the half baked squirting feature.

The latest Zune firmware is nice. i like the layout better than Apple's iPod line. Now, the HW and syncing, Zune Software (PC) and Marketpalce, I have nothing good to say.
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post #11 of 54
Is it just me or did that flashing "guaranteed winner" blue banner on the right hand side make this article both annoying and difficult to focus on.

Oh and about the artical... M$ figures they will steal thunder from Apple? Only if they want to be in the "in other news" space in the blogs...
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post #12 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post

Does not compute.

While we all know that Mac computers still comprise a clear minority of computers sold these days, The fact that the Zune software being Windows only is significant,

Many of the PCs sold these days that help them win the market share competition are sold to business and older shoppers. The younger set and the university students are currently switching to the Mac in very significant numbers. Now, who buys MP3 players? Kids and families or companies?

Of course you can run Windows on a Mac, but many people don't.

And of course, internationally the Mac platform is less significant.

Nevertheless, if the OSX market continues to grow as it does, it will add even more pressure to the Windows only Zune (over and above the pressure from the popularity and acceptance of the iPod and iPhone).
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post #13 of 54
Wow, I'm amazed that they still make Zunes. Last June it was stated that MS only sold 2 million of them. Must have been all MS employees and their families and friends.
post #14 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai1999 View Post

Are M$ still selling the Zune family at a loss?
- Or have M$ managed to pull their heads out of their A$$ long enough to make a product that is good enough to be sold at a profit?
- to be honest, I think competition for Apple is a good thing, but not if the competition deliberately sold at a loss in order to gain market-share (that means you M$!).

I don't think they break out the margins of each product, but the business area that includes Zune, XBox360, and similar endeavors is now, from what I understand, above break-even and is making a tiny profit. They managed to bribe a LOT of people into buying the earlier generations of XBox below-cost and subsidized by their Windows and Office monopolies, but at this point I think it's self-sustaining. If Microsoft requires them to stay that way, the future XBoxen will have to compete just like all the other consoles and you'll get what you pay for, so it probably won't sell as well...
post #15 of 54
What is amazing (or not) is that looking at the Zune in blue it just looks just boring whilst the out of focus copper nano just begs to be touched and handled. I hope they do release the Zune the same day. By lunch time there will be a huge DOH! coming from the direction of Redmond.
post #16 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Wow, I'm amazed that they still make Zunes. Last June it was stated that MS only sold 2 million of them. Must have been all MS employees and their families and friends.

The zune is actually doing really well right now as far as sales go. The platorm is very nice. I do believe the iPod platform was innovative and nice when it first came out but the fact that it's been the same for the last 6 years is retarded. I have iPhone 3g iPod touch 60 gb iPod first gen zune and zune mini. I do like iTunes better than the zune software but iTunes eats up way too much memory physical and flash. But the zune has a way better looking interface and does a lot more than the iPod. The iPod touch is the only Competiter to zune as far as quality but the iPods still do very much outsell the zune. This probably won't change but zune will for a long time be a competiter in the market.

[note]: also it is the 3rd generation zune plus mini is 4. The reason they will be releasing another one is because they are the second largest mp3 player in the market. Talk all the shit you want but out of about 1,500 different companies it's number 2. They are doing something right.
post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

But the zune has a way better looking interface..

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so.
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post #18 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

This probably won't change but zune will for a long time be a competiter in the market.

I agree. The Zune may not be everything that the iPod is, but it will be a long time competitor.
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post #19 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The webpage, since removed, listed the players as being in stock, suggesting the Redmond-based software giant may make an attempt to steal some of the thunder surrounding Apple's Let's Rock event by introducing the new Zune offerings on Tuesday or shortly thereafter.

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post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

The zune is actually doing really well right now as far as sales go. The platorm is very nice. I do believe the iPod platform was innovative and nice when it first came out but the fact that it's been the same for the last 6 years is retarded. I have iPhone 3g iPod touch 60 gb iPod first gen zune and zune mini. I do like iTunes better than the zune software but iTunes eats up way too much memory physical and flash. But the zune has a way better looking interface and does a lot more than the iPod. The iPod touch is the only Competiter to zune as far as quality but the iPods still do very much outsell the zune. This probably won't change but zune will for a long time be a competiter in the market.

[note]: also it is the 3rd generation zune plus mini is 4. The reason they will be releasing another one is because they are the second largest mp3 player in the market. Talk all the shit you want but out of about 1,500 different companies it's number 2. They are doing something right.


http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2008/05...ive-drops-2%25

According to most, Sandisk is #2 at 11%, MS is #3 at 4% and Creative is #4 at 2%
post #21 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2008/05...ive-drops-2%25

According to most, Sandisk is #2 at 11%, MS is #3 at 4% and Creative is #4 at 2%

SanDIsk kicks but on unit sales because they do so many cheap players, while I think Creative is all large PMPs. SanDisk will jump up a lot for the holiday quarter. They offer huge discounts which severely hurt their profits.
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post #22 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

But the zune has a way better looking interface and does a lot more than the iPod.

I have never even touched a Zune let alone played with it. But maybe this will be one of tomorrow's tricks. The standard iPod interface is getting a little long in the tooth. It works well, is easy to use but I am sure there is space for improvement.
post #23 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

SanDIsk kicks but on unit sales because they do so many cheap players, while I think Creative is all large PMPs. SanDisk will jump up a lot for the holiday quarter. They offer huge discounts which severely hurt their profits.

Except, it was announced today that Samsung is looking into buying Sandisk?
post #24 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mav5 View Post

I agree. The Zune may not be everything that the iPod is, but it will be a long time competitor.

It's an unfair advantage to competitors. With guaranteed revenue from its monopolized core market, MS can continue to waste money on money losing products. What sound business would continue producing products that are not profitable? They would kill it. MS will continue to fund till the competition fatigues with innovative initiatives for the product.
post #25 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

I have never even touched a Zune let alone played with it. But maybe this will be one of tomorrow's tricks. The standard iPod interface is getting a little long in the tooth. It works well, is easy to use but I am sure there is space for improvement.

The zune interface defiantly wins over the classic ipod interface but both pale in comparison to the iPod Touch / iPhone interface.

I think that apple recognizes the current demand for the smaller nano and hard drive based ipods, but they also believe that touched screen, flash based devices represent the future. I believe Apple will update the interface of the "standard" ipods tomorrow, but eventually they will introduce smaller nano like devices that uses the mobile OSX operating system and slowly phase out hard drive based ipods completely. From my point of view, Microsoft is competing with the last "generation" of devices. (I always consider the software to be the most important aspect of a device)



Also, the zune media management software is overall just horrible.
post #26 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcolley View Post

Why innovate when you can copy? I wonder how much Microsoft has lost so far with their ipod knock off?

They made billions with their Mac OS knock off (aka Windoze) so I guess they figure they should keep trying.
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post #27 of 54
Quote:
i would not consider the Zune an iPod knock off at all. the Zune is a fine media player and the subscription service is nice. the software sucks though and since they decided not to make a mac compatible version of it, they will never gain any real market share. a huge mistake on their part.

Yea, like all MSoft attemps to get people hooked up in Windows. Same thing to MS Silverlight, want to beat Flash? but development is on Windows platform only.

Quote:
The zune interface defiantly wins over the classic ipod interface but both pale in comparison to the iPod Touch / iPhone interface.

Yeah, but I prefer the iPod interface, it looks less distracting and simple.
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post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai1999 View Post

Are M$ still selling the Zune family at a loss?
- Or have M$ managed to pull their heads out of their A$$ long enough to make a product that is good enough to be sold at a profit?
- to be honest, I think competition for Apple is a good thing, but not if the competition deliberately sold at a loss in order to gain market-share (that means you M$!).

The Zune doesn't create any competition for Apple. The Zune is not compatible with iTunes and the Zune Marketplace is not compatible with the Mac. So the Zune would not steal any Mac users to buy their product instead of an iPod. For Windows users, maybe. But if they already have an iPod with an iTunes library of music, I don't think there would be much of an incentive to switch players, especially since the Zune doesn't have any good reviews. If the Zune was compatible with iTunes, then there would be true competition.
post #29 of 54
Quote:
Talk all the shit you want but out of about 1,500 different companies it's number 2. They are doing something right.

As others have said on this post, MS is 3rd behind Apple and SanDisk, not 2nd. Also, the market share that MS did manage to grab did not hurt Apple one bit. In fact, they cannibalized their own Plays For Sure partners (Creative, SanDisk, etc.) and stole market share away from them. Apple's market share has been pretty steady for years now, and not a whole lot has even come close to hurting them.
post #30 of 54
Oh yea check out ZuneRama 6th Post http://www.zunerama.com/

Now I know why the Zune looks good, its cause the designer uses a Mac
The woman must be saying in her thoughts, "I will never use Windows, Mac is too nice to use"

Oh yeah, Apple will never open up iTunes anyway, they dont even open up their DRM.
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post #31 of 54
For cryin' out loud! Microsoft really has not done any innovation to make PCs personable. iPod was one of the first successful digital music players. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS A NO FRILLS INTERFACE AND LOOKS GREAT! The Zune really is a knock-off of the iPod.

A coworker I knew from Radioshack was always talking about how Apple charges an arm and a leg for their products and doesn't let users share between iPods. I know those are the main gripes right now, but the benefits of an intuitive design far outway the quirks. Plus, Apple and iTunes have attracted far bigger talent than all of the Zune artists combined, and there are ways to free music from DRM - or you can use a file-sharing service like I do (even though it is illegal).

Bill Gates may get all the credit, but he is mainly a logician and not much of an innovator. Steve Jobs is an innovator who knows that most consumers are not logicians and need a clear interface. On digital music, I'd take Apple over Microsoft any day of the week!
post #32 of 54
Quote:
Bill Gates may get all the credit, but he is mainly a logician and not much of an innovator. Steve Jobs is an innovator who knows that most consumers are not logicians and need a clear interface. On digital music, I'd take Apple over Microsoft any day of the week!

Yeah, I dont get it why they still ask Gates to advertise for them even though he is not in the company anymore. Not only the ad, even on Windows 7.
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post #33 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelhot View Post

Yeah, I dont get it why they still ask Gates to advertise for them even though he is not in the company anymore. Not only the ad, even on Windows 7.

I think he is the Chairman of MS.
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post #34 of 54
I agree that it is an improvement over the first version, however, anything would be an improvement over the first version. Microsoft relies on graphics to make the Zune OS feel different then Apple's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The latest Zune firmware is nice. i like the layout better than Apple's iPod line. Now, the HW and syncing, Zune Software (PC) and Marketpalce, I have nothing good to say.
post #35 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

I agree that it is an improvement over the first version, however, anything would be an improvement over the first version. Microsoft relies on graphics to make the Zune OS feel different then Apple's.

I'm a university professor, and by most of my student's standards, I'd qualify as a "fogey" or a "geezer". Last spring I bought my first ever iPod, an 80GB 5.5G. After class one day, I was talking with a small group of my students, just chatting with them really, and I made a joke that "I'm one of the cool kids now" and showed them my new iPod. Of the six or so students who were all talking together and with me, all but one also produced theirs, and we all started comparing notes on the advantages and disadvantages of the different iPods. A few minutes later, a student coming into the classroom for the next class being held there saw us and pulled out a Zune... all my students burst out laughing.

It was the first one I'd ever seen in public, and still to this day is the only one I've ever seen that wasn't in an ad or a display.
post #36 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

But the zune has a way better looking interface and does a lot more than the iPod. The iPod touch is the only Competiter to zune as far as quality but the iPods still do very much outsell the zune. This probably won't change but zune will for a long time be a competiter in the market.

Love how people always separate the iPod touch from the other...iPods. I recognize the difference, but sorry, the iPod touch is the next generation, widescreeen, touch-based iPod. The original 2006 Zune 30 and the one year later Zune 80 are to this day competing with the three year old iPod video! The flash-based Zunes that debuted alongside the Zune 80 are competing with the three year old iPod nano! Yet all these Zunes debuted at prices identical to the comparable iPod, they lack good desktop software and/or comparable media store and any useful new features.
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post #37 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser View Post

I'm a university professor, and by most of my student's standards, I'd qualify as a "fogey" or a "geezer". Last spring I bought my first ever iPod, an 80GB 5.5G. After class one day, I was talking with a small group of my students, just chatting with them really, and I made a joke that "I'm one of the cool kids now" and showed them my new iPod. Of the six or so students who were all talking together and with me, all but one also produced theirs, and we all started comparing notes on the advantages and disadvantages of the different iPods. A few minutes later, a student coming into the classroom for the next class being held there saw us and pulled out a Zune... all my students burst out laughing.

It was the first one I'd ever seen in public, and still to this day is the only one I've ever seen that wasn't in an ad or a display.

You should've immediately given him a failing grade.

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post #38 of 54
Having actually played around with an 8 GB Zune, in terms of hardware it's actually a very nice player with pretty decent controls. It's the software that lets down the Zune--it's nowhere as integrated as iTunes is.

Don't be surprised if Microsoft releases the third-generation Zune software as part of the next-generation Zune model, one with a vastly easier to use and more integrated interface that works directly with Windows Media Player 11 for easier copying of downloaded music from places like the Amazon MP3 store.
post #39 of 54
Quote:
Having actually played around with an 8 GB Zune, in terms of hardware it's actually a very nice player with pretty decent controls. It's the software that lets down the Zune--it's nowhere as integrated as iTunes is.

Don't be surprised if Microsoft releases the third-generation Zune software as part of the next-generation Zune model, one with a vastly easier to use and more integrated interface that works directly with Windows Media Player 11 for easier copying of downloaded music from places like the Amazon MP3 store.

I give MS 5 years to realize that their Zune software sucks.

Only now they realize that their App Store for Windows Mobile is incomplete...and that is after how many years they are in the market.
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post #40 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SactoMan01 View Post

Having actually played around with an 8 GB Zune, in terms of hardware it's actually a very nice player with pretty decent controls.

While the Zune's industrial design is uninspired (and just plain ugly), the innards...have been noted to be identical to those of the iPod. So in terms of internal components, I'm sure the Zune is just dandy.
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