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Jason Dunn 10-23-2010 12:14 AM

What's the Future of Zune Hardware?
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='' target='_blank'></a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"With Windows Phone 7 finally out, what does the future hold for Microsoft's line of Zune media players? I suspect that very few people outside of Redmond are asking themselves that question right now-and that anybody who does care assumes that the Zune HD will turn out to be the final stand-alone Zune. (Like all the other Zunes before it, the HD suffered from a malady I like to think of as "Gee, this is quite a good product, but it's in a class of devices that people lost interest in a year ago" syndrome.) Me, I'm hoping for a new Zune soon-maybe several of them. Hold on, hear me out, I'm serious."</em></p><p>I've been muttering about this one for a while: if Microsoft doesn't come out with a media player that's basically a chassis 1 Windows Phone 7 without the phone, they're missing a vital opportunity. If they want to build an ecosystem, they need to both offers consumers connected and non-connected models, and they need to offer developers the most populated platform they can - everything possible capable of running their software. The Zune HD is a great device, but people want apps and enhanced functionality beyond just the basics, and the Zune HD can't deliver that right now (no, the 30 apps so far on the Zune HD really don't count - the damn thing still can't view YouTube videos).</p><p>One catch here is that the baseline Windows Phone 7 spec has a lot more ooomph than the Zune HD - a 1 Ghz processor and bigger, higher resolution screen won't come cheap - so if Microsoft can only offer this type of product at the $499 price point, well, that's going to fail...</p>

FtheK 10-23-2010 01:00 PM

I agree that they do still need a stand-alone media player, but getting down to that important price point of matching/beating the iPod touch's price is going to be extremely difficult with those specs. I also think that for that reason getting another company to build it, as suggested in the article, is just not possible.
By building it in house, as another attempt of getting the Zune brand further in to the market, it is possible, because they will obviously not pay the license fee and can take less profit, but because of this the only way to view it is as a way to hook people who are not quite ready to pay for an expensive device and expensive contract in to the Zune ecosystem, so that they're more likely to buy a Windows Phone device in the future.
Also, I think they could keep selling the Zune HD, lower the price, and market it as a device which is to the newer Zune as the nano is to the touch, again for people not quite ready to make the kind of financial commitment needed to buy one of the new Zunes/Windows Phones.

The Yaz 10-23-2010 06:36 PM

I agree that Microsoft needs to maintain a phoneless device in their ecosystem. I still feel that the current HD is a great little device and its still has something no one else has, HD radio. I love the feature and it works reasonably well in my car, which has allowed me to hear my AM sport stations better than on my car radio!

I still think Microsoft could really make a second gen Zune into a internet phone with VOIP and social media apps. I know I cringe giving a preteen a cell phone, but a zune might be worthwhile since so many of the places my kids hang out have open wireless available.


Sven Johannsen 10-23-2010 10:19 PM

I have to believe that if Windows Phone 7 is a success, and that doesn't mean kills Apple, that it will introduce enough people to Zune that it may foster a resurgence of that line. Apple has a non-phone iPhone, the Touch, but they also sell a heck of a lot of just media players. They all have some features, but you aren't loading apps on your nano from iTunes. It has what it has. I personally prefer my phone/little processing unit, to be just that and my media player to be something different. Sure, I'll listen to some music or watch a podcast on my phone, but if I'm on a flight or want to drown out the world with some tunes, I'll take a dedicated media player any day. Sort of a shame WinPhone 7 doesn't have a Zune dock connector IMHO. Sort of a shame Zunes don't support BT as well.

Brothernod 10-25-2010 01:53 PM

This ties in well with the only aspect of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform I'm truly disapointed with.

There is no Zune connector on the phones. This was their huge missed opportunity to get some weight behind their Zune in terms of licensed devices. Without a standard connector (hell I guess I'd be fine with an announced software interface) they aren't going to have radio dock's and car connectors, and as such it really limits to use of the device outside of itself.

I completely agree that they needed to create an iPod/iPhone doppleganger as it gives sooooo much more momentum behind the marketplace. In fact I have such a hard time reccomending anything other than an iPod Touch to anyone I know who wants an MP3 player and doesn't have a smartphone, simply because of the utility of the marketplace.

Hell I bet they could sell the Zune media player for a small loss and make it up on the market and licensed connected devices.

It's a real shame that the HD looks like it'll be a bastard child of the Zune brand since the hardware is not compatitble with the WP7 hardware I doubt it'll receive the love the phone will going forward and the device basically needs to be scapped and started over.

Is it really too much to ask for my Windows Phone 7 to work with my car stereo so I can use the hardware forward and back buttons? Thats what I always wanted from my Zune that it could never give me.

randalllewis 10-30-2010 06:04 PM

I'd like to believe there is another Zune device in our future, one that can play the Windows Phone 7 games in particular. I am thinking of getting the 64Gb Zune soon and probably wouldn't drop those plans if I heard there was a new device on the way unless I heard the new device would have that much storage.

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