“The digital music entertainment revolution is just beginning,” proclaimed J Allard, corporate vice-president and chief XNA architect, Microsoft, on the occasion of the unveiling of Microsoft’s much anticipated attack on Apple’s iPod in the form of a 30GB media device.
Set to hit the market this Christmas in the US, the Zune device features wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a three-inch screen that allows users to not only show off music, pictures and video but also customise the device with personal pictures and themes.
The device’s presence will be bolstered by a rival to Apple’s iTunes store called the Zune Marketplace, which Microsoft calls a foundation for an online community that will enable music fans to discover new music.
In terms of the anticipated wireless technology, the wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing feature allows consumers to spontaneously share full-length sample tracks of select songs, home-made recordings, playlists or pictures.
If, for example, you like a song you hear off someone else’s Zune you can flag it on the device and easily purchase from the Zune Marketplace.
The arrival of the device will also come with an innovative way to purchase music. Users can choose to purchase tracks individually or can buy a Zune Pass subscription that allows them to download as many songs as they want for a flat fee.
Every Zune device will come pre-loaded with content from various record labels, such as EMI’s Astralwerks Records, Virgin Records, Ninja Tune, Quango Music Group and V2/Artemis Records.
In terms of accessories, the device will come in three different packs. The Zune Car Pack will include everything you need to listen to music in your car, such as an iTrip-like built-in FM tuner with AutoSeek and a Zune car charger.
The Zune Home A/V Pack integrates with the home TV and various music speakers with accessories like an AV output cable, dock, synch cable and a wireless remote.
The Zune Travel Pack will include special earphones, a dual connect remote, a gear bag, synch cable and AC adapter.
“With Zune, we are not simply delivering a portable device, we are introducing a new platform that helps bring artists closer to their audiences and helps people find new music and develop new social connections,” Allard said.
By John Kennedy