Zune 2 Unveiled

By Richard Menta 10/3/07

The wrapping is finally off on the new Zune player. The only question is will it sell? It depends on your point of view, because in this case Microsoft hopes to soon root "we're number two" for the Zune, and now with two Zune units to work with. Both Zune players also offer a product that can sync to the PC via Wi-Fi, a feature unavailable in the new generation iPods.

The first Zune unit is an 80GB model that looks almost the same as the original Zune, but is 27% smaller. Called the Zune 80GB, the new generation Zune can be recognized by the touchpad, which replaces a circle with a square with rounded edges. The Zune 80GB offers a 3.2" display.

The other new Zune is a flash-based portable, available in 4GB and 8GB and called - your way ahead of me - the Zune 4gb and Zune 8GB. Both Zune flash units are available in red, olive, pink and black.

From here on the two Zune players share features, including the wireless sync feature mentioned earlier. All Zune players now offer an FM tuner and play video files. Microsoft also stated that they have extended wireless sharing on the Zune. It will still limit users to only three plays of whatever file they share, but there is no longer a time limit before the files expire. Still, this crippling of the player to assuage the movies and record industries is the most disappointing aspect of the wireless feature, so much so that visions of artists passing out free tracks at concerts never materialized. The Zune Marketplace, where the new Zune toys can purchase music, will get a revamp in November, though it only will work with users who have the Vista operating system.

The Second Generation Zune Players

As Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg told Bloomberg about the Zune "If they are willing to spend the time on marketing and evangelizing, they have a good shot at a strong No. 2". Presently the number two player in this space, SanDisk, has single digit market share versus the iPod's over 60% share.

The two Zune units hold up well against the updated iPod nano and iPod classic. But Zune looks dated against the new iPod touch, a unit that starts at $299 for 8GB of memory. The new Zune players ship in November. The Zune 80GB will sell for $249, the Zune 8GB sells for $199 and the Zune 4GB sells for $149.

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