Microsoft is holding an invite-only press conference today, September 14th, to show off for the first time its highly hyped and anticipated “iPod killer,” codenamed “Zune.” While most analysts have unveiled that the Zune will be nothing more than a modded and rebranded Toshiba Gigabeat, hopefully with a new operating system, this will be the first time anyone’s actually confirmed seeing one in public. It seems that Microsoft is suffering again from Origami syndrome, where they simply can’t keep their hat over a new product until the clamor reaches a peak. Still, for those folks looking forward to seeing the Zune, today’s the day.
Toshiba has already confirmed that they’re manufcaturing the Zune for Microsoft, so instead of starting with a design and going ground up with the supposed “iPod killer,” it looks like Microsoft instead found a previously flopped digital media player, has opted to rebrand it, hype it up and market it, and hope it penetrates the market. Not a marketing plan I would have chosen, but time will tell if it works for Microsoft. The Zune also reportedly will have features that target social networking fans by offering the ability for friends to stream tunes to one another without actually sharing the music, it will have wifi and be able to download tunes over wifi from Microsoft’s Urge subscription-based music service.
All in all, the announcement and features reported to be on the Zune leave more questions than answers-wifi devices usually have horrible battery life, and what software will be used to connect the devices to wifi networks? Will it connect to secure networks, and how? How will DRM factor into the social networking/sharing aspect, and what will happen to the music when an Urge subscriber cancels? I doubt that Microsoft will answer any of these questions today, but perhaps we’ll get our first look at the device, that Microsoft says will be ready for the holiday rush.