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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Microsoft to Release Zune Update, But Does Anyone Care?

posted by on September 9 at 15:39 PM

According to

The Zune designs remain largely the same, but they’re getting more capacity.

Microsoft is replacing the 80-gigabyte Zune with a 120-gig hard-drive player for $250. (The biggest iPod can store 160 gigs and is priced at $350.)

It is introducing a 16-gigabyte flash-drive player for $199. It will be in the same design as the current 8-gig player. The 4-gigabyte player is being discontinued.

In addition to new hardware, Microsoft on Sept. 16 is rolling out an update to the Zune software, on the device and the PC.

Listeners will be able to flag a song on the radio for purchase later and to stream or download songs over a Wi-Fi connection directly from the device.

Meanwhile, had this to say about the future of Steve Jobs and the market-dominating Apple I-Pod:

BURLINGAME, CALIF.-Apple has summoned the press for an announcement Tuesday morning, and, as usual, it’s keeping the details secret. But Chief Executive Steve Jobs will almost certainly introduce a fresh lineup of iPods.

A few years ago, this would have been a big deal. But something funny has happened as the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s iconic music players—first introduced in 2001—have transformed the music business. Sales of digital content is remaking Apple…even though iPod sales have cooled.

In fact, many are betting the changes to Apple’s iPod lineup will be rather humdrum. In a note to investors Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted Apple will introduce redesigned editions of its widescreen iPod touch and iPod nano, and tweak the pricing and capacity for its iPod Shuffle and Classic.

The real news Tuesday will be the appearance of Jobs, who had surgery to remove pancreatic cancer in 2004 and startled many with his gaunt appearance at a developers’ conference in June. The New York Times later reported that Jobs had surgery earlier this year to address “a problem that was contributing to a loss of weight.” In other words, investors have more riding on the survival of the man behind the iPod than on the product itself.

Meanwhile, Apple’s thriving digital content business gives Steve Jobs & Co. plenty of room to slash the price of the iPod to keep digital music and movie sales growing, and to use the company’s increasingly powerful digital content business as a way to segue into sales of tablet computers and other gizmos, as it has with the iPhone.

“With iPod price cuts, Apple is choosing revenue over unit cannibalization,” Credit Suisse analyst Bill Shope wrote in a research note Monday.

To be sure, Apple’s lineup of digital music players could use a boost. IPod sales are up just 7% from the year-ago period. In part, that’s just the law of large numbers at work. However, fresh designs, coupled with a price cut, could reignite demand for the stylish gadgets and keep customers rolling into Apple’s increasingly lucrative iTunes store.

Does anyone even own a Zune, and, if so, do you like it?

RSS icon Comments


Actually I want one. I'm PC based and have no use for Itunes.

I have a Sansa 8 gig mp3 player now and I really like it. (I paid $30 for it as a refurb).

I've yet to figure out why I should pay more for an I-pod when there are tons of other devices that do the exact same thing for a quarter of the price.

Posted by Jeff | September 9, 2008 4:12 PM

i'm with #1, i am looking forward to these new zune models.

to all the zune haters out there: keep spending your money on those drm-restricted mp3's.

Posted by cosby | September 9, 2008 4:34 PM

I-Tunes works poorly on my PC as well. What music sources do you use for your Sansa?

Posted by Grant Brissey | September 9, 2008 4:39 PM

I love mine. The wireless feature, while somewhat stunted because there are so few Zunes out there, is still fabulous. I use the wireless to song-bomb people on the bus. (Yes, they still have to accept the exchange, but they almost always do!)

Posted by Sara | September 9, 2008 4:39 PM

I got one in December. It stopped working in July. They sent me a 'new' one in August that has never worked. After hours on the phone, I'm trying to send back the non-working replacement. I've been waiting two more weeks for shipping materials, and I'm really starting to think they are stalling to argue that the warranty has run out. I liked it, but I can't recommend the Zune to anyone plus converting the files to iTunes is not working so good.

Posted by joe's cousin jerry | September 9, 2008 5:28 PM

i have the zune 80 and i love it. never had an ipod though so i cant really compare it to that. but it's a heck of a lot better than the phone with 4 GB SD card which i used to use for a digital audio player. plus i have dropped it several times and got it wet and it still works :) i do wish the zune online store had a better selection of video (would really love to get some of those cool bbc science documentaries for the bus ride home) but haven't run into anything i wanted but couldn't find in the music store.

Posted by Tiffany | September 9, 2008 6:23 PM

Windows media player works for my sansa.

Posted by Jeff | September 9, 2008 7:16 PM

I've owned one for 1.5 years, from the original Zune 30 to my current Zune 80. Love it. Best MP3 players I've ever owned- great sound quality, amazing UI, good social integration, awesome subscription service, and increasingly useful WiFi. There is a core, passionate fanbase out there for the Zunes, and with each release the platform gets better and better (and to Microsoft's credit, they keep supporting the early adopters, which receive the same firmware as the newest devices). It gets old hearing the Zune haters, who have never used one, bash it and continue to subscribe to the Apple's "trendy" iPods. Having owned a few, I liked them well enough, but the Zune is much better. Microsoft's announcement for the Zune, for the first time, topped Apple's lackluster event today.

So yes, there are a number of us who care.

Posted by Julio Ortiz | September 9, 2008 7:40 PM

Zune owners. Amiga users. People who dress up as furry animals and have sex. There's a niche for everyone.

Posted by Tiktok | September 10, 2008 10:29 AM

To #9 (Tiktok). And then there are the Lemmings who would jump down the cliff with iPods. What's your point? If you have nothing better to say, please don't.

Posted by KlicKlak | September 10, 2008 12:02 PM

I've got an iPod and two Zunes. Zune is better. The devices are super-slick and give you more for the money than iPod. But the main thing that makes me prefer Zune is the music library software is way cooler than iTunes.

Posted by Kirk | September 10, 2008 4:32 PM

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