Third Gen Zune Not Coming Until 2009? Nah, Can't Be!
If the reports are to be believed, we won't see a third generation Zune coming out until holiday 2009. When you consider that the first Zune was released in November 2006, and the second generation Zune was released in November 2007, skipping two full years seems not only implausible, but downright ridiculous - the Zune team would never make a fatal mistake like that. Here's what I think might really be cooking: in November of this year, 2008, here's my guess at what we'll see purely from a hardware perspective:<br /><ul> <li><strong>The current Zune 80</strong> will retain it's size and shape. It might get a VGA screen, but that's unlikely (as much as it pains me to say that). What we will see is a 160 GB version, and enhancements in the battery life department. There's a slight chance it might get a bit slimmer, but I don't see that happening - I see capacity and battery life growing instead.<br /> </li> <li><strong>The Zune 4 and Zune 8</strong> will remain in their current physical form factor, though we'll see a Zune 16 added to the mix. The Zune 4 may be dropped depending on how the price points end up - Microsoft does not want the Zune 4 to be perceived as a "budget" player and they do not want to compete with players like the SanDisk Sansa Clip - they'll up the capacity and keep the price point to keep that from happening. I doubt Microsoft will go up to 32 GB of storage, unless they see Apple doing it first (which is unfortunate - they should beat Apple to the punch with 32 GB). We'll see enhancements in battery life, but the hardware itself will be otherwise largely unchanged.</li> <li><strong>And this one is really going out on a limb...I believe this year we'll see a wide-screen Zune</strong> designed to compete with the iPod Touch. The Zune team has been poking about, asking Zune customers via surveys if they want a bigger, video-focused player, and I'm hoping that people have been saying yes. Note that this would be a completely new Zune, not a "third gen Zune", so technically this new Zune could come out and not invalidate the statement about the third-generation Zunes not coming out until 2009. It would be touch screen, but it would trail behind the iPod Touch in terms of the built-in applications. I don't believe the Zune team is ready, willing, or even able to compete with the contacts/calendar/notes/browsing functions on the Touch. I suspect this new Zune, if released, will focus in on media playback scenarios only.<br /> </li></ul>There's my rampant speculation. What do you think Zune fans - am I going to be proven right or wrong by the end of this year?