By Richard Menta 5/31/09
I find it interesting that quite a bit of the mainstream media feel that the Zune HD is going to be a big challenger against the iPod touch come fall. Don't get me wrong, the specs on the Zune HD look quite competitive, but there are two issues here that need to be taken into account first.
The first issue is that past Zune players sold anemically against the iPod. This despite the fact that the players themselves were good overall and Microsoft dropped some heavy marketing coin on them. The players were very visible in some high traffic stores like Wal-Mart and Sears. They just didn't sell.
The second issue is that the press is comparing the specs of the new Zune against the present generation iPod touch, which everyone expects to be replaced either in June or September. There is a lot of speculation regarding what form the new iPod line will take. Until the next generation is unveiled we can't assume the Zune HD's OLED display and HD radio tuner will be unavailable on the future iPod.
But now that Apple App Store has turned the iPod touch and iPhone into a successful game platform Microsoft has to protect its Xbox franchise. Pundits figure the Zune HD is at the heart of a new mobile platform strategy for MS. If that statement is accurate then that puts a lot on a brand that has only managed lackluster results to date. It waits to be seen where everything will turn.
In the meantime, we have to deal with an iPod that may or may not have a slew of new features by Fall and a Zune player that is being given one more chance to resurrect the brand. Hopefully the Zune HD won't build its base on a lot of proprietary nonsense and DRM restrictions, two issues that hindered past Zune models.
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