Image via Gadget Review
Today is the moment of truth for Zune. This morning, Microsoft formally launches a "slimmer, revamped version" of its Zune handheld music and video player.
In a solid attempted to take a bite out of the iPod market share, the touch-screen Zune HD - complete with a radio receiver and wi-fi - comes at a lower price than Apple's iPod Touch.
The device has a claim of technical superiority over Apple's iPods, with a state-of-the-art organic light emitting diode screen and ability to relay high definition video to a television. But it will struggle to make an impact on the stylish iPod, which took the digital music player mainstream when launched in 2001 and now controls more than 70 percent of the market. The original Zune did not come onto the market until 2006.
In this regard, Microsoft has image problems more than hardware issues with consumers. We tend to avoid Microsoft for such gadgets because... well, that's just not their thing. Of course, that doesn't mean Microsoft's Zune won't put up a fight, and possibly slightly chip away at Apple during a forthcoming holiday season that will transpire during a still ailing economy.
Microsoft's player is backed by the Zune Marketplace, which rivals Apple's iTunes store, where users can stream, buy or rent music, videos and films. The device features only a handful of applications, such as MSN weather and some video games, but it is planning to add applications featuring social networking sites Twitter and Facebook in November. Unlike Apple, Microsoft does not have an open marketplace for application development, and is not charging for them.
Zune HD is available from major retailers with a black 16GB version for $219.99 and a platinum 32GB version for $289.99.