Microsoft delays UK launch of Zune

Zunes

Microsoft's Zune, its long-awaited portable media player rivalling Apple's hit iPod, will be launched in the UK at least a year after next week's US debut. Microsoft is under pressure to release the Zune amid a pending war over digital standards.

Content purchased from Microsoft's Zune store will only work on Zune players with Windows Media Player, just as tracks purchased via Apple's iTunes Music Store only play on iPods.

The UK delay is apparently the result of Microsoft not yet agreeing a music store partner here, and in Europe. Microsoft's US retail partner has not been disclosed ahead of the US launch on November 14.

The Zune will sell for $249.99 and offer:

  • A 30 GB digital media player, equipped with wireless functionality so Zune owners can share content. Players will have a three-in LCD screen working in portrait or landscape mode, and will have an FM tuner. Three colours are initially being offered: black, brown and white.
  • A selection of preloaded content, including songs, music videos and short movies.

Apple founder Steve Jobs recently dismissed claims that the Zune posed a threat to the market dominant iPod, which celebrated its fifth birthday on October 23. Jobs said the wireless music sharing technology took "forever". "By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left," Jobs told Newsweek magazine.

Apple has sold 67.6m iPods since 2001; it has sold 39.4m in the past fiscal year, and the iPod has a 75% US market share for portable media players. US market researcher Jupiter predicts iPod sales will grow to 102m in 2011.

Lovelace Consulting  |  07.11.2006

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