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Darren Waters

Return of the Zune?

  • Darren Waters
  • 27 May 09, 06:04 GMT

The Zune is back - well, sort of.

Microsoft has announced that the Zune will now morph into an entertainment platform - across PC, mobile and console - including HD TV and film content on the Xbox Live service in Europe.

No details of what that content is yet, however, nor how it will integrate, if at all, with an announcement in the UK on Thursday expected to involve a major TV partner

Microsoft also announced a new HD Zune player, with built-in HD radio. And guess what? It's only available in the US - again.

While it's impossible to draw judgement on the first part of the announcement, the launch of a new device once again in the US only must mark the last throw of the dice for Microsoft in the portable player market.

Can Zune ever rise above its place in popular culture as a by-word for coming in second?

More details here.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I wouldn't even go as far as to say they come second. If microsoft had any sense they would launch worldwide otherwise they will never make any kind of impact in the Market.

    Ask anyone on the high street what a zune is and they couldn't tell you!

  • Comment number 2.

    Why don't they launch it as a portable games player a la DS and PSP? It would help them transfer an installed user base, who feel some loyalty to it (like people who liked Ipods get Iblackberrys or whatever they're called)?

    If you use this idea Gates, I want my 10%!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    I have owned a Zune for about 3 years now having bought one in the US. The Zune is a far superior device to the iPod having a great screen and fantastic sound quality. I'm really chuffed to hear that they will be launching at last in the UK as I was beginning to be tempted by the beautiful OLED Sony X Walkman.

    I tried iTunes once but it refused to play wma and it managed to just about take over my whole computer slowing it down considerably. The Zune software, being from Microsioft, has been designed for the Windows platform and therefore intergrates with it in afar more secure way. Streams perfectly to the XBox too.

  • Comment number 4.

    Just buy an ipod touch, it exists today and does all the stuff that MS are talking about tomorrow! Plus its getting good reviews as a games machine..

  • Comment number 5.

    Zune second place? Says who.. It was only ever launched in the US, it was a rebadged Toshiba player and sold really badly..

    It's about 15th behind.

    iPod
    Walkman
    iRivers
    Creative
    Cowon
    Samsung
    Archos
    Sansa
    ...
    ...

    ...

    ...

    Zune

  • Comment number 6.

    The zune media player software is very good, yet like iTunes isn't perfect. I've heard zunes have good sound quality, which surely in a device which is mainly used to listen to music on is the most important part.

    mvan99, last time I cheacked, the iPod touch didn't have radio, let alone HD radio (not that I know what exactly that is). The sound quality of iPods is questionable and iPods seem to scream to me "conformist".

  • Comment number 7.

    @Tams80, if sound quality is important (which you would hope it would be given we are talking about audio players), then Walkman, the Samsung P2/P3 or the Cowon should be high on your list.

    The Zunes sound very average, and the iPods sound downright horrendous. (it's shocking that such poor quality devices are the best sellers, very depressing that investing in marketing is more beneficial than investing in product development...)

  • Comment number 8.

    @prettejohn,

    "I'm really chuffed to hear that they will be launching at last in the UK"

    which part of US only did you get that from?

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Tams80, HD Radio is a US only thing which the UK will never see so forget that feature, the ipod touch / iphone app store has several radio applications that let you listen to live radio over the air (Wunder Radio is great and gives all the main stations inc BBC). Partly agree with your sound quality statement but if sound quality is a concern none of these devices offer that. For an instant sound upgrade the first thing to do with an ipod is to throw the apple headphones in the bin and buy a decent pair. At the end of the day these devices are about convenience. Competition is always welcome in this market as it gives us the consumer a better deal/choice..

  • Comment number 11.

    Hmm. Desperate attempt to reposition as an iPod Touch (or even PSP) competitor in the US. Doomed to failure really as the Zune brand is now fatally damaged.

    @Tams80: iPod sound quality has improved steadily. The I found a big difference between the 5G iPod and the classic I have now (more space). Perhaps not surprisingly, the best sound quality I have heard is with some of the Sony units. The major problem with Zune and with Sony kit is the software: Sony's Soundstage is (or at least was - I haven't seen v recently) pretty clunky and MS do their usual trick of overcomplicating and overegging everything. ITunes does at least score in terms of simplicity, which is what the consumer market needs and wants.

    And yeah, Apple's standard headphones do suck! The fact is, other platforms do some things better, but the iPod package as a whole wins on styling, ease of use and acceptable sound.

  • Comment number 12.

    (do forgive me for going off topic)

    Dear bpn1990,

    is that better?

    The comment was directed "at" that user. This has been around for more years than i care to remember (before twitter). it would make no difference if "user:" was used. At least maybe this is consistant with the twitter style which is a modern communication platform that you clearly dont understand. (along with the millions of johnny come latleys following its appearance on Jonathan Ross, Oprah)

    Why dont you get a life and stop bullying people with your arrogance.

  • Comment number 13.

    Return of the Zune... did it even arrive?

  • Comment number 14.

    At 12:16pm on 27 May 2009, bpn1990 wrote:
    it is incredible to me that so many of you are so infected by being birds online that you use silly @ symbols for replying to people. get a life people! twitter should not define the way that you use the internet!on another note, see http://twitter.threadless.com/. it might make your eye bubble


    I have been using @ as a way of pointing out who I am talking to since my early days of using IRC in 1999. The convention is older than Twitter, it's just that Twitter has made it more widestream.

  • Comment number 15.

    @andywg

    Quite right. I first used IRC in about 1990. It was reasonably common practice even then. As you say, twitter has just borrowed it and made the trope mainstream. Why it is objectionable I don't know: it's lightweight, it's descriptive and it is fairly easy to understand why it's there. I'm usually something of a grammar pedant (though I will not make myself look stupid by invoking Muphry's Law here) but I can find nothing problematic about its use in the correct context.

  • Comment number 16.

    I thought MicroSoft where so embarrassed by the Zune debacle it had simply been swept it under the carpet and let it disappear?

    Proves you can't make a success of everything you copy - after-all Steve Jobs lives in Heaven, talks to God and enjoys a spot of go-go dancing (with his iPod of course).

    @ BPN1990
    Twit....

  • Comment number 17.

    I've owned 3 ipods (each lasting precisely 13 months before hard drive failure), a sony walkman mp3 player and a zune which I bought in America 13 months ago next week (here's to hoping it survives this next week) and the best piece of kit was the Zune. Each Mp3 player required software installation, Sony's Sonic Stage was the worst, ITunes wasn't great and Zune's does the job.

    Each to their own, if Ipod fans want to look cool and have the latest trends then so be it. I researched the various Mp3 players out there and decided the Zune was right for me. Now if Microsoft pulled their fingers out and made a worldwide release perhaps we could really see where it fits in the rankings. It's number one for me though.

  • Comment number 18.

    you people calling me twits/ giving me abuse... firstly shame on you, but secondly, cant you see that you have been dragged in by a useless and self serving service!? the whole point of twitter is essentially self worship! as soon as I offend/criticise your means by which you worship yourself, i get abuse! self worship is a dangerous thing people!

  • Comment number 19.

    I am now on my second Zune. Son and heir sticks by his ipod, and was givente option of a new Zune or ipod last year for my birthday, but nothing compares to a Zune for me. I have been so frustrated by the lack of Zune Marketplace in the UK - I was in the US last year and STILL couldn't use it on my UK laptop - I hope that this isn't another rumour that comes to nothing.

  • Comment number 20.

    Microsoft seem to try to muscle in on any growing technology market, unfortunately they are always late, produce inferior products and don't innovate, but just copy. They think the name Microsoft will win th emarket share, this is no longer the case.

  • Comment number 21.

    @bpn1990
    I'm not on Twitter, have no plans to ever be on Twitter, and I have been using the @ convention on the Internet in IRC and Newsgroups since 1988, long before Twitter or even the Web was around. I struggle to see how using such a long-standing convention is being "dragged in" by Twitter? If anyone around here is into a spot of self-worship, it seems to be you in thinking your ignorance, wilful or otherwise, is of any value...

  • Comment number 22.

    Agreed that the Zune does have superior sound quality to the iPod, but you have Toshiba to thank for that, the Zune was just a re-badge with a new case and some software tweaks. MS had little choice when trying to compete with the iPod juggernaught to have a technologically superior product, but then Betamx was superior to VHS, and Mac OSX is superior to Windows...

  • Comment number 23.

    I've owned 2 Creative Zen players for over 5 years, and both still work great with excellent battery life. Both are quite clunky compared to the newest players on the market, but I didn't buy them for looks, I bought them for functionality. The Zen Touch has a user interface that's much easier than the Apple offering while the Zen Vision M has a screen that, at the time, was much clearer and displayed more colours than the iPod. In addition, the only formats it doesn't play are Apple's proprietary formats. It takes 2 minutes to transfer a downloaded TV show or film to it and I can watch it immediately, no waiting around for conversion at all. The only problem I've had was a corrupted mp3 file that made the player freeze. Other than that it's been perfect. I'd never dream of buying an iPod and don't understand why anyone else would.

  • Comment number 24.

    I had a zen for a number of years too. The battery life and the ability to buy and replace the battery without a screwdriver being required meant you could always carry a spare.

    Let's also not kid ourselves here people.

    Some people are stating MS are a faceless monster. Apple are a monster too and only avoid being faceless because people worship Mr Jobs spin and the companies trendy marketing. This doesn't affect my opinion on them making products that work and are good.

    Just, as I always say, use what suits you and stop with the playground politics. The best part of all is we have choice, either of these corporations would love you not to and be stuck with them. Let's stop kidding ourselves that they care.

  • Comment number 25.

    I bought my Zune precisely for the reason of not wanting to be an ipod sheep. It performs very well in every respect. Pity the social aspect is totaly lost on UKers as there are so few about. Another huge mistake was not letting you use the Windows Media Player for downloading material from....huge shot in the foot not using their established platform and cobbling the Zune application together. Still I get their updates and can now play suduko whilst listening to downloads or the radio.

  • Comment number 26.

    More BBC advertising for Microsoft products. When did you ever give Archos, who have far better products, a mention?

    The social music sharing of aspect of the Zune is a fantasy. Share music with other Zune owners... I've never met one. A bit like having the world's only telephone. Who ya gonna call...?

  • Comment number 27.

    Just to correct a couple of posts about the Sony players. They havn't relied on SonicStage for several years now, they are proper MTP devices, which mean you can drag/drop from explorer, or Use Windows Media Player, and work with Mac/Linux too.

    It's ironic that Sony get a hard time still because of their first few generations of players, that sound great but were horrible to use. The latest players still sound fantastic (by far and away the best sounding players on the market IMHO), and their usability is also now very good, they also have the least DRM restrictions of all of them, you are not tied to any particular application to manage your music. It's a shame it's too late. Whilst Sony were messing around with ATRAC DRM infested platyers, and horrible desktop software to manage them, Apple ran away with the market with nice looking but horrible sounding and badly built players.

  • Comment number 28.

    I've been delighted with my Zune 30, 80 and 120 and am very excited about the Zune HD, which I hope to pick up in the US in late September.

    The screen is excellent, I love the UI and the software gives me no problems whatsoever - in fact, it's quite stunning. Sound quailty, so often glossed over in reviews is absolutely excellent.

    I do use the FM radio reasonably frequently and would really miss it on a device without it.

    It's definitely been an uphill struggle for MS and all the 'haters' are pretty tedious to listen to. Competition for the iPod is actually a good thing IMHO.

    I wish that MS would launch the thing in Europe though and there have been hints that the HD might be the model to do that with. I hope so because even though we don't do HD Radio here, FM will still work from what I've read.

    Everyone who I've actually shown my Zune 80 and 120 to is seriously impressed and can't believe it's not available outisde the US. Having said that, I normally hide my Zune 30 as it's not really a looker (hence it's so frustrating when Apple biased media show a 30 even when reporting stories about the 80 and 120 and now even about the Zune HD!).

 

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