Turns out the rumor is true! Microsoft is working on a new project to take on Apple and the iPod called Zune. Information is flying fast and furious around the web, but Engadget has come to the rescue with a pretty good status check of what is known thus far. They also posted a quote from Microsoft’s GM of Marketing, Chris Stephenson:
“Today we confirmed a new music and entertainment project called Zune. Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year. We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together.”
As has been noted elsewhere, this marks a significant change in Microsoft’s media and entertainment strategy, which thus far has relied upon partners to build and sell devices. I don’t think it will be quite the problem that many believe though – Microsoft competes with partners all the time, in a wide range of different industries. In fact I hope Zune turns out to be great, so Microsoft’s partners can follow their lead and improve their own players.
With keyboards, mice, webcams, the Xbox 360, and probably other stuff I don’t know about, Microsoft’s hardware business is already somewhat substantial. Add media players to the mix, the rumored portable gaming device, and maybe Microsoft sees a future in hardware? I wonder how long it will be until they manufacture their own Media Center PC.
In any case, bring on the Zune!