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September 28, 2006

Microsoft Announces Zune Pricing, Availability, Other Details

Zune will be available November 14th and will be priced at $249.99 for a 30 Gigabyte model.  That's just 99 cents more than a comparable Apple iPod.  Zune tunes (you heard it here first) will cost 99 cents each.  Microsoft has said that it expects to lose money on the player as it has to compete with Apple on prices.  What the company hopes will distinguish Zune from the iPod is the additional subscription service priced at $14.95 a month and the wireless connection that lets Zune users share music on a limited basis.  The limit here is the receiver will be able to play a song three times, or for only three days, which ever comes first.  Users should be able to share photos on an unlimited basis.  Apple doesn't have a subscription option in iTunes though it does quite well without one.

Analysts at Jupiter Research note that music subscription models have yet to catch on with the general public.  The legal Napster isn't exactly setting the world on fire and Real Network's Rhapsody service has a lot of criticism leveled against it if the comments in the service's user forum are any gauge. Sample them here.

Microsoft says it's in this market for the long haul and plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over years to build up the Zune brand and customer loyalty.  We'll good luck with that.  By the time Microsoft gets everyone hopped up on wireless features, Steve Jobs will have figured a way to stream iPod based music to the home entertainment center via the same iTV set top box that will send movies downloaded from the iTunes store.  This time, however, he will let Microsoft do all the heavy lifting on selling the concept.  Quite the revenge for all the "borrowing" Microsoft seems to have made from the Apple OS for Windows.

Stories are in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Register, and this one in ComputerWorld with predictions as to how and why Zune will ultimately best the iPod, as if Apple won't know how to compete.  We still have no idea how smothering Microsoft's DRM will be, or, if (dis-)similar to Rhapsody, whether Zune will be a seamless and smooth experience for end users. 

September 28, 2006 | Permalink

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