The Microsoft Zune is the number two digital music player in the United States, we already know that the Apple iPod is number one but just how far behind is the Zune?
Turns out that the Zune is REALLY far behind, since its launch in November 2006, the Zune has sold 2 million units, by comparison Apple sells about 2.65 million iPods per month.
The Zune is actually selling faster than the iPod did when it was first released, it took the iPod a full 2 years to sell 2 million units, Microsoft has beaten that time by 5 months or so.
Microsoft has already announced that games will be coming to the Zune soon and just recently the Zune Marketplace was updated to offer TV show downloads. although the Zune may eventually takeover Apple’s top spot it still could take many many years. The Zune is one heck of an alternative though and if sales continue to do better and better you may actually be able to squirt songs to others on the bus someday soon (that’s if people actually decide to leave the Wifi on).
Microsoft’s Zune 2.5 update launches today and with it will come purchasable TV shows and more social features.
You can now view friends Zune cards inside of the Zune software instead of using your browser to view them. There is also a return of auto playlists and the introduction of gapless playback. Dynamic friends list that shows what they are listening to. Integration with Windows Live Messenger showing you “now playing” to your chat buddies.
The bid deal in this update is the video store, which has 4,800 music videos and downloadable TV episodes for $2 each. Current partners include:
NBC (surprise, surprise, they left iTunes for the Zune Marketplace?)
There is no sharing of video content between players and no word on whether or not that is coming but, hey, that would pretty awesome.
Overall I think that Microsoft is pretty consistent with improving the whole Zune experience. If the software worked on the Mac I might even consider getting one (and I’m a die hard iPod fan).
Microsoft has announced games for the Zune will soon be available. The games are currently only going to be developed by XNA Studio developers.Details are very sparse right now, the only thing we really know is that the games will be available soon, right now we are unsure as to whether or not games will be supported by the first generation Zune but there are some hints that point to the developers having the ability to decide for themselves if they want to develop support for the first generation Zune.
I would assume that games would be distributed just like how Apple is distributing them which for the Zune would mean you would purchase them from the Zune market place.
The first beta development tools will be available in the spring. For those of you who want to check out some pictures of the games Engadget has galleries here and here.
With the latest firmware of the Zune, Microsoft has done away with the restriction of 3 days to listen to that song that your Zune friend sent to you, but the 3 play restriction is still there.
A workaround has been found so that you can wirelessly share songs with your friends without your friend having to deal with the 3 plays restriction.
All you have to do is change the genre of a song to “Podcast” and than add the song to your Zune library.
The song will be listed under Podcasts but when you send the song to your friend, and he/she syncs the song back to their computer all they have to do is change the genre back to whatever they want it to be and re-add the song to their Zune library.
There you have it all, thanks to zunescene.com for finding the workaround, it is fairly simple but pretty cool.
One of the coolest things about the new Zunes is there ability to playback DVD quality video (up to 720×480 at 30fps, or 720×576 at 25fps). So this begs the question, why doesn’t the iPod? The iPod probably has the horsepower to play it back but why is it still stuck with 640×480 maximum?No one knows exactly for sure but one would have to guess that the reason is that it would compete with the AppleTV. DVD quality video isn’t exactly 720p (which is the AppleTV’s maximum) but it is close enough that someone would rather spend $50 on a cable then spend $300 on a box that would serve basically the same purpose.
Steve Jobs was quoted a while back (I can’t find the original quote) saying basically that if someone was going to make a product that beats an Apple product, he wants it to be Apple. So why would Apple kill off the AppleTV before it even had a chance to be successful? I have said many times that if the iPhone was given just a couple more features (namely syncing over Wifi and the ability to see a UI on your TV when using TV-out) there would be no reason for me to purchase an AppleTV, but because I don’t have those features the thing on the top of my Christmas list this year is the AppleTV.
I’m not sure if I am upset with Apple for not allowing you to put DVD quality videos on your iPod, I would guess that the iPod has enough horsepower to play it back, but at the same time I’m not sure. I still think it is very interesting that the new iPods are capable of outputting video to a TV at 480p and 576p but you can’t put content on the iPod in that resolution (what gives Apple?).
At the same time though I am glad that Apple didn’t allow you to put such high quality videos on your iPod. Firstly I want the AppleTV to get a little bit more momentum behind it because it really is a great product. The second reason is fueled mostly by rumors that Apple is gearing up to rev the AppleTV with DVD playback support and the addition of HD movie rentals in iTunes, this would surely cause quite a bit more people to think about purchasing an AppleTV. If your iPod could only hold video at 640×480 but the AppleTV could playback those pretty HD downloads on your TV why wouldn’t you buy an AppleTV.
I really hope that Apple does rev the AppleTV because I don’t think that it is currently as successful as they hoped it would be. I think it is a great product but I find it very hard to justify buying at its current price tag compared to its limited functionality. If I was able to get rid of my current DVD player and throw an AppleTV in its place, with DVD playback and the ability to play iTunes content I wouldn’t hesitate at all. It would simplify my living room tremendously, right now when I want to watch a movie downloaded from iTunes or a TV show from iTunes I have to sync my iPod and then bring it in to the living room with some AV cables, hook them up, then control the video with the iPod, that isn’t exactly simple. But simplifying just my sneakernet of content issue isn’t worth $299, but if I could get rid of my DVD player, with its terrible interface, in favor of the beautiful AppleTV interface (along with its ability to output my DVDs in 720p) that really would be worth $299.
On top of all that the AppleTV is simple enough for my girlfriend to understand, not to say that she is unintelligent, but she is of the mind set that you should be able to turn on a TV and hit the channel up/down buttons until you find something you like, I on the other hand want something a little bit more complicated so that I can have more control over what I watch. The AppleTV allows me to have the control of my content along with a 6 button remote for the non-tech-savvy.
Overall the AppleTV is a great product, but it sure does need some improvement for its $299 price tag.
First of all, the official release date is November 13th. Secondly Microsoft will be making some changes to the Zune software. The Zune Marketplace is adding more then one million DRM-free MP3s, podcasts (really great for all of the great podcasts out there) and music videos will also be added.
If all of you were curious about the new Zune interface, you can see it in action in the video below.
Three new Zune models have been announced, two flash based models and one hard drive model.
Flash based Zunes:
“Zune 4” with 4GB and the “Zune 8” with 8GB.
Uses the “Zune Pad” which is a four way touch-sensative directional pad.
Zune 4 will sell for $150 and the Zune 8 for $200.
Both versioins available in pink, green, black, and red.
Both have a 1.8″ display.
They will be sized at 41.4 x 91.5 x 8.5mm (1.6 x 3.6 x 0.33-inches).
Hard Drive based Zunes:
“Zune 80” will sport a 80GB hard drive.
Will also use the “Zune Pad.”
Will be sold for $250.
Available in black (possibly with more colors coming down the line).
Will have a 3.2″ display.
Dimensions are 61.1 x 108.2 x 12.9mm (2.4 x 4.25 x 0.5-inches), much smaller then the original Zune.
The original Zune will still be there and from now on will be called the “Zune 30.” The new Zunes will begin shipping in November and all of the Zunes (including the Zune 30) will have a brand new redesigned user interface (which I think looks gorgeous). H.264 and mpeg-4 will now be supported by the software. The Zune will now be able to sync over WiFi, which is AWESOME (and one of the features I would love to see in the iPhone).
The Zune will finally have Podcast support and can be shared over WiFi with other Zunes. The three day restriction has been lifted from shared songs but it is still limited to three plays. The Zune music store will be going DRM-free with over 1 million MP3s (more details to follow).
Along with the new Zunes will also come new accessories for them, all of which look pretty cool. I’ll be honest with all of you, the new Zunes aren’t going to make me switch but I would definitely recommend them to friends and family.
Oh, by the way, Apple, please add WiFi syncing to the iPhone, that would be greatly appreciated.
Engadget has posted some details about the Zune 2. The new Zune sounds interesting, I’m not sure if it will be very successful, probably better then the original Zune but the Zune 2 won’t be quite as popular as the iPod is.
So let’s get into some of the details, October 16th is the launch date and there will be two models, a flash based Zune (at least code named) the Draco, and a hard drive based Zune (at least code named) the Scorpio.
Draco will come in pink, red, black, and army green with 4GB and 8GB capacities.
The Scorpio will have 80GB of hard drive capacity and is said to have an “awesome screen” for video.
The funny thing about these players is that they will feature a “Squircle” which will be used “for navigation, which won’t have a center button but can be pushed, From any side,” I don’t know exactly what that means but it doesn’t sound that great.
The day before the Apple event (2 days ago) Microsoft had an announcement as well, a price drop on Zunes. The price of the Zune has dropped to $199 so instead of buying an iPod Nano with 8GB of memory and a 2″ screen you can get a 30GB Zune with a 3″ screen. I personally would prefer the iPod Nano but I do think that the Zune has one of the most beautiful interfaces I’ve ever seen.
If you want to pick up the Zune for even cheaper you can get a white Zune for about $170 on amazon.com.