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Friday, September 17, 2010

ZuneHD2 on the Way?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:48 PM


It's that time of year again. New iPods are out, and the next generation Zunes can't be far behind. Or can they? There's been a great deal of talk whether the Zune HD will be the last or second to last hardware Zune Microsoft produces. It's clear Zune's future lies in a platform, on PC, Xbox and Windows Phone, but a new Hardware version may have something to offer that the last few iterations couldn't. WMPowerUser via Engadget seems to think that an MS job posting for a hardware specialist focusing on “next generation of portable entertainment and communication devices” has something to do with a Microsoft-produced PMP or phone handset. Given the success of the iPod/iTunes same foundation in iOS (and to a similar extent the UI innovations from Zune HD that eventually made their way to WP7), it makes sense for Microsoft to consolidate the media player and phone OS teams. If Microsoft can produce a phone-less Windows Phone 7 the way Apple has with the iPod Touch they may have a chance, albeit a small one. Microsoft and Apple have already killed off their once-popular dedicated harddrive-based players in favor of multifunction touchscreen models (iPod shuffle notwithstanding). And after the Kin debacle, I can't imagine Microsoft bigwigs are in a hurry to reenter the consumer dumbphone market with an in-house handset. As exciting as it would be to have a cheaper, contract-less Windows Phone for apps, music and video, the platform has at most one or two more iterations before being killed off. Is it even viable for Microsoft to release another ZuneHD at this point?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is Zune HD the Beginning of A Microsoft Revolution?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 08:56 PM


"Let's peer ahead one year, where we'll see how the release of Zune HD represents a shift (*ahem*) in Microsoft's strategy, a convergence of media everywhere, using multiple screens for the same content. You buy (or steal) those movies, TV shows or songs once, and then you can watch them anywhere. Imagine this: You carry around a slim, tiny phone, and when you get home you plug it into a dock that charges it. Meanwhile you instantly have access to its content — movies, songs, pictures — on any PC on your network, your Xbox 360, or any TV in your house. That video you started watching on the train? You can finish watching it in your home theater in HD, even 1080p on your Xbox 360."

I'll believe it when I see it. The pieces have been in place for years, and only now are we starting to see a real convergence in device strategy between the individual Microsoft departments. DVICE makes a good point about the usefulness of a subscription service tying the individual pices together, and the Zune branding of Xbox Live video marketplace was definitely a good first step. It remains to be seen, however, if new Xbox, Zune, and Media Center developments (not to mention those in Windows Mobile and Windows 7, plus Pink, Turtle, and Courier) will help sort out these integration deficiencies, or the groups will continue to live isolated as they have the last few years. I'm really hoping I'm proven wrong.

Tags: thoughts, , zune hd

Friday, January 16, 2009

Zune's Not Dead (So Stop Asking!)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 PM


"The demise of the Zune as a device is premature. In an interview with the P-I, Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach acknowledged that "We have already started to see some flattening and even declining in the stand-alone MP3 player market. I think you'll see that continue." But he also said he did not think the device would go away, at least in the short term. "I just think it's not going to be where most of the growth is," he said. "We have some great assets in the software we do for the Zune -- both on the PC and on the Zune device -- as well as the services we provide -- Zune Social, Zune Marketplace. We see opportunities for those beyond what we do on the device itself."

It's amazing how easily a two-sentence sound bite can be taken out of context. Steve Balmer and Robbie Bach's comments last week about the future of Zune have lead many tech bloggers to declare that the Zune project is on its last legs. Sure, Zunes haven't been selling as well as they probably should have by this point, but there are several fairly easy ways to get into the black—most of which Microsoft should've done since the beginning. Things like releasing internationally, putting the platform on more hardware, and a deeper integration with other Microsoft services would be a great start, and to what I think Balmer was referring. Others, like C|Net's Matt Assay think Microsoft should get out of the media player business altogether:

"Microsoft should not be in the Zune business. Period. No amount of Apple envy should have taken Microsoft into the Zune, and its best option is a quick exit. Let's face it: Microsoft is not cool. That's reality. It's an enterprise software company and, however much one may dress up enterprise software, it's still not sexy or cool. Billions of dollars in profit, however, is cool, and Microsoft has that in spades. Sure, it risks losing out on the digital-entertainment revolution by not having a music delivery platform, but there are other ways to get into that business without trying to beat Apple at its own game."

Chris at GotZune rightfully tears into this argument, but I couldn't let this level of stupidity go by unchecked. It would be foolhardy of Microsoft to go into the next decade without a strong content distribution and entertainment platform. And, as the developer of the world's most popular operating system, is in the best position to bring connected entertainment to the masses. Far from being irrelevant, I believe Zune actually fits perfectly in with the "three-screen" strategy Balmer unveiled at CES. As entertainment that perfectly spans all three media (PC, mobile, TV), games, music, and video have the opportunity to be constantly connected and deeply integrated with Microsoft's other Internet- and cloud-based services. Marketplace (with Zune Pass) on the Zune device is already a great example of this. Extending Zune service to Xbox and Windows Mobile platforms will fill in key experiences for consumers and ensure Microsoft's relevance for years to come.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What’s Really Happening with the Zune

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 05:30 PM


"I bought a zune because I saw the vision Microsoft had for the XBox 360, and I fully understood the direction they were going to take the zune. and now, with the software version 2.5, they are oh so close to being there."

Aaron Linne wrote a great piece on the direction of the Zune brand. He brings up the common arguments against Zune and the Social, but rebuts them by bringing up a scenario in which Cesar Menendez sent him (and everyone else on Cesar's friend list) a link to the new Tokyo Police album. What differentiates this scenario in the Zune ecosystem from other social network/audio scrobbling services is that Zune not only features a tighter integration between the different services (e.g. one-click downloads of other peoples' recommended songs), but also the unlimited download Zune Pass. Using a Pass, I can download as many tracks as I want without any extra cost. The ones I don't like I just get rid of; I don't have to worry about wasting $20 on songs I don't really like. This is a huge value to me as a music consumer, and makes the Zune ecosystem that much stronger.

I think Linne sums up the Zune brand perfectly: "iTunes is for people who like certain musicians. Zune is for people like music."

Friday, December 29, 2006

One Person's Zune Thoughts: It's a Keeper

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:45 AM

"I got an MS Zune for Xmas, debating if I should return it for an iPod. I opened the box anyway since I'd very little first hand knowledge of the product it would give me a chance to do some first hand research."

It's always great to take a break from major reviews and instead divert attention to the average consumer and what his/her thoughts on the Zune are. Jill England received a Zune for Christmas, and naturally, she was skeptical at first, but decided to take the plunge, anyway. Three days later, the Zune is a device she loves and a device she wants to keep. The drawing points? The large screen, the eye-catching UI, and even the FM radio tuner. For those of you who received a Zune for Christmas, are you in the same boat? Is it a device you're happy with?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Howdy Fellow Zunites!

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Thoughts Site Updates" @ 10:00 AM

Reverend Doctor Damion Chaplin here, though my friends call me Damion, and you should too. ;-) I'm currently a Contributing Editor over at Digital Media Thoughts, and now I've picked up a second hat over here at Zune Thoughts. I'll be bringing you all sorts of yummy Zune news, views, rants and raves just like you've come to expect from Thoughts Media sites. Now that the Zune is out, the news is flying wildly about, and we are of course working like madmen to bring you the very best. Be seeing you!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stereogum and MOKB Examine the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:50 PM

"That's where Microsoft's challenge lies. Zune provides a few improvements over iPod but, as much as Microsoft acknowledges the inevitability of a device-based dialogue, its aspirations lay far beyond the unit itself; with Zune, the company wants to redefine the market for purchased music, going from the "closed" system of Apple to an open community -- an "army of promoters" –- changing the way music is discovered (via wireless-device sharing of songs and playlists) and purchased (via Zune's subscription service)."

A few bloggers (Stereogum and MOKB, among others) managed to score some personal time with the Zune last week. They cover quite a few aspects of the device and service - appearance, weight, dimensions, the colours (and the trim), the joys of integrated Wi-Fi, the ability to personalise the UI, and the all-you-can-eat Zune Pass. Check out what they have to say! All in all, the Zune has potential. With aggressive marketing and solid product maturation from now until the holiday season and beyond, Microsoft just might be able to steal some of the limelight from Apple.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm Darius and I'm Crashing the Party!

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Thoughts Site Updates" @ 09:00 AM

Hello from Down Under! I'm Darius Wey, and I've joined Zune Thoughts as a Contributing Editor. Many of you may know of me across the other Thoughts Media web sites - in particular, Pocket PC Thoughts, home to the other Contributing Editor in me. :)

My obsession with mobile technology stemmed from an early age. It started off as a hobby involving simple digital organisers, but soon grew and gobbled up everything in sight - from Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones to digital audio players (DAPs). Of course, my love for the latter has recently fueled my interest in the Zune. The iPod, as wonderfully successful as it is, seems overly monopolistic, and I'm an audiophile wanting alternatives; current products simply fail to deliver enough oomph. Microsoft has the potential to go above and beyond what Apple currently offers in the digital media space. With some of the same folk behind the Xbox 360 working on the Zune, there is plenty to look forward to, and I can't wait to see what Microsoft has in store for us in the months and years ahead.

Outside of Thoughts Media, I'm a software/web designer and developer, a Microsoft MVP in the "Windows - Mobile Devices" category, and an executive of the Perth Mobility User Group in Australia. Time-permitting, I also dabble with graphic design, digital photography, computer and console gaming (Xbox 360), multimedia production, and sports.

I look forward to working with the staff here at Zune Thoughts, and you (the community), in turning this site into a fantastic place for all of us to sit, talk, drink tea, and discuss all things Zune.

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