The Zune is a media player device with 30GB (gigabytes) of storage space, 3" colour display and with wireless networking capabilities. The Zune Website is now live, and you will find lots of information there.
With the device comes a new on-line music store, where you will be able to purchase your songs, with DRM of course.
But even with DRM, there's an interesting twist: using the wireless capabilities you can "beam" any music from your device to a friend's device. Create your own mini-community! Share your media! Let the media be free!
There are limits though: a friend can only play a shared song 3 times in 3 days, after which he must buy the song to continue using it. Fair enough.
And a fineprint caught my attention today: "Recipients cannot re-send music that they have received via the sharing feature." This can't be right. How can they expect a viral thing to happen if the "virus DNA" can only be transferred once?
Anyway, you can have your own content there too. the Zune software can import audio files in unprotected .WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in .WMV, MPEG-4, H.264. So all is not lost, yet.
As usual, Microsoft (and other consumer electronics companies) started thinking of U.S. only. The Zune won't be available elsewhere for a while, and unlike Apple iTunes store, the Zune store does not seem to be available outside the U.S. for a while. Reports come in that Microsoft UK have no idea of who their music store partner is going to be, so things will be slow outside the North American market.
Also, MSN Music is closing doors this 14th November, being replaced by the Zune store:
Beginning November 14th, 2006, MSN Music will no longer offer music downloads through the MSN Music store. The "Buy" buttons that you are used to seeing on the MSN Music album and artist pages will change to links that connect you to Zune and Real Rhapsody. See below for information regarding how this change will impact your MSN Music account.
And the recently launched Urge (a partnership between Microsoft and MTV) doesn't seem to be getting any exposure either.
So, what happens with the Windows Mobile Portable Media Center (PMC) now? The supporting MSN Music store is gone. You will have to supply your own content or rely on third party suppliers. If they don't migrate to Zune as well.
Communities are being built around the new device. Check Zune Thoughts and the virtual Zune User Group for detailed content and discussions.
Still, would I consider a Zune? Hmmm. Yes. The geek in me is asking for one. To replace my aging PMC. Will it be a rival for the Apple ipod? Only time will tell.
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