Zune HD portable media player: launch-date announced by Microsoft

The new Zune HD media player will be launched in the US on 15 September, Microsoft has announced.

Zune HD is literally the state-of-the-art personal media player device; alive with cutting-edge technology. It's a brand new gadget, introducing welcome competition to a well-established sector which has been dominated for too long by Apple's well-marketed but over-priced devices. At launch, Zune HD will already be about $80 US dollars cheaper than the iPod, and the price could be reduced as Microsoft offsets manufacturing costs against media download sales, passing the benefit on to its customers in the form of a subsidised handset.

Zune HD offers the full range of features including:

Zune HD is distinct from other portable media players. This is next-generation technology, incorporating the Nvidia multicore Tegra processor -- the fastest, most powerful chip ever deployed in a portable media player. The processing-power is so awe-inspiring, in fact, that one cannot help but wonder what else Microsoft might be planning to do with it...

Tegra is powered by two processor cores based on intellectual property from the UK-based chip designer ARM. The CPU which runs the operating system is based on the ARM11 core. That's not the only serious machinery under the hood with Tegra -- far from it. For example, Tegra also includes a serious dedicated graphics processor -- an Nvidia GeForce graphics chip. In total, Tegra integrates eight independent processors. Welcome to the era of "computer on a chip" technology, with integrated CPU, GPU, northbridge, southbridge and memory controller, all in a single package.

Zune is the collective brand name for a wide range of integrated products and services, which Microsoft's marketing literature describes as "the ultimate entertainment service". Zune HD is an important part of Microsoft's exciting and ambitious overall strategy for interactive entertainment, in which video and music content from Zune and other providers are being rolled-out to other Microsoft platforms including the Xbox games console, Windows Mobile phones, and of course on Windows PCs. The boundaries dividing these platforms are likely to fade as technology evolves.

I predict that by 2012 Microsoft will launch something that could be described as a Zune phone. At the very least I envisage a Zune app that can be downloaded from Windows Marketplace, the app store for Windows Mobile. If the popularity of the service soars as rapidly as it should, I'd like to see a Zune-branded phone. If this isn't Microsoft's coordinated strategy, it arguably should be! Watch this space...

12 August 2009

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Tim Acheson (14 Aug 09, 14:27)

Zune HD

Hmmm... I generally consider myself too professional to be influenced by product marketing or presentation. Nevertheless, I can appreciate a good design as much as the next man, and I find myself forced to admit that Zune HD is the best-looking portable media player I've ever seen.

Please forgive this momentary lapse, but this new piece of hardware is compact and sexy; especially in silver. It's a masterpiece -- it's beautiful. It's a new toy. I want one!

That concludes my emotive outburst. Thank you.

Erik Sherman (15 Aug 09, 18:50)

I think you're being way too pessimistic in saying 2012. I'd think 2011 at the latest, and maybe even next year. Microsoft isn't going to way to give up its share of the handset market. In fact, my bet would be that it's likely we'll see the OS and capabilities licensed to other manufacturers, in which case 2010 would be more likely, I think. http://industry.bnet.com/technology/10003056/microsoft-zune-hd-to-release-915-aggressive-pricing/
Tim Acheson (17 Aug 09, 18:35)

That's a fair point, Erik. My prediction about Zune being released on a mobile phone by 2012 could be seen as a safe bet. In estimating this timeline, I factor a degree of caution into the equation, for various reasons.

I feel it’s likely that the phone platform on which we’ll first see Zune services deployed will be Windows Mobile. Based on that assumption, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Zune service on mobiles will be delivered through an app that can be downloaded from Windows Marketplace, the Apps store for Windows Mobile, which will be launched later this year. (It was opened to developers for app submissions on 27 July.)

I'd allow six months for Microsoft to evaluate and learn from user experiences on Zune HD and decide what works best, and then possibly another six months thereafter to release the product outside the US -- which could be a new version of the device and/or OS. [Late 2010.] I'd estimate six months from that point for an Agile team of Microsoft developers to port the functionality of the Zune HD device over to a Windows Mobile client application, possibly alongside simultaneous work to scale-up and/or adapt the server architecture. [Mid 2011.] Some of these processes could happen in parallel. And .NET is a very nice easy platform to develop for (which gives MS mobile apps a big advantage over the iPhone Apps). So, yes, my "by 2012" prediction is indeed conservative, and even then there's a generous margin.

Tim Acheson (18 Aug 09, 11:58)

Related news

Smartphones to take '70pc of Europe's mobile market' by 2012

Mobile-phone experts predict that “smartphones” similar to the BlackBerry and the iPhone will account for seven out of 10 phones sold by 2012.

Amazing OLED screen looks incredible even watching movies never thought a MP3 player could have a screen this nice. Tegra makes the games run smoothly on this I love audio surf on this makes listening to music more fun. See a nice video review captured here - http://www.techarena.in/video/23296-zune-hd-review-video.htm

Yeah,I don't think so that it is such about, I think this will be a ZuneHD2 or something without a data feature that can compete with the Ipod Touch. I am also preferring for these things.

Tim Acheson (18 Feb 11, 18:21)

Tip: Don't underestimate the Zune brand. I've said it before, and I'll say it again! ;)

The HD device was just one experiment, while of course Microsoft's major focus for mobile devices was Windows Phone 7 on which Zune is just one service. The Zune brand is huge and, has amazing potential. Zune has already taken a large bite out of iTunes' market share. People often make jokes about Zune, usually because they fail to differentiate between the brand and the experimental device -- deliberately or out of genuine ignorance.Don't be fooled by the anti-Zune propaganda which originates from Apple and their fan comminities.

Microsoft has exciting plans for expanding in home entertainment with Live services. MS already leads the world in interactive entertainment, and not just games. Xbox has been the best-selling console for several months running now, by a significant margin -- in January it was the only console with sales increasing year-on-year. Xbox Live on Xbox and Win Phone 7 is amazing! And on XBL at home I already get a diverse array of services including Zune (music and movies in true full HD 1080p), Sky Movies, Sky Sport, Last.fm, Facebook, Twitter, etc, plus loads more coming soon -- all on my 150-inch home theatre screen and controllable with Kinect or the standard wireless controller. Some people are still living in the 20th century.

Tim Acheson (15 Mar 11, 08:24)

Mashable provides a typical example of anti-MS humour in this context:


"Share your favorite Zune jokes in the comments."


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