Disclaimer: I am extremely anti-iPod (really it’s more anti-iTunes because of the DRM) and am the proud owner of a 1st gen, brown, Zune 30GB.
Ever since its introduction the Zune has been the subject of ridicule from most of the world because it was made by the ultimately uncool Microsoft. Many viewed the device as another Microsoft attempt to buy their way into a profitable market (mp3 players) and crush everyone in their path. Of course that wasn’t going to work since Apple had already achieved a Windows-like monopoly on the industry, but despite what most would consider a
failure slow moving effort Microsoft has continued to update and launch new versions of the device.
Why Won’t Microsoft Just Give Up?
First, Microsoft is extremely well-funded thanks to Windows and their software. Therefore they can shrug off the hits like a heavyweight champ. Second, the Zune is actually a pretty damn good device. Most won’t remember this, but when the original Zune launched, Apple got a case of big-screen envy that really pushed the iPhone/iPod touch development up a notch. Watching video on my 1st gen Zune 30GB is still a very pleasant experience made all the more pleasant thanks to the price tag.
Now for the real reason the Zune won’t die (drumroll please) — the Xbox.
Yes, that’s right, the Xbox. Sony has fallen on its face with the PS3 and while the Wii has sold millions of units (I enjoy playing Wii as much as anyone), for serious gamers and techies, the Xbox is the gaming system of choice. Add in the Xbox Live feature and you have a pretty sweet gaming setup. If you doubt, just check out the recent numbers: 30 million Xbox 360s sold and 20 million Xbox Live subscribers. But how does that save the Zune? Say hello to the Zune HD.
The Zune HD, as described on Yahoo, will include a 3.3 inch OLED touchscreen, output in HD, HD radio receiver, built-in Wi-Fi, full-screen web browser and FULL INTEGRATION WITH XBOX. This isn’t just a sissy product tie-in. Xbox users will be able to stream Xbox Live content right onto their Zune HD. You may as well call it the Xbox handheld because that is effectively what you’ll have. Watch out Apple, the Zune will see your bet and is raising all in.